‘Think tank’ on rare Parkinson-like disease Friday at MBI

Irene Litvan, M.D., a world authority on the diagnosis of a rare, Parkinson-like disease, will visit the McKnight Brain Institute on Friday to talk about the “many faces of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.”

The presentation is part of a symposium focused on advances in Parkinsonism and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, known as PSP.

A professor of Parkinson’s disease research from the University of California-San Diego, Litvan has developed diagnostic criteria that distinguish this rare disease, which affects only about six out of 100,000 people.

In addition her presentation, Litvan will participate in a panel discussion about the differences between typical and atypical Parkinsonism.

“PSP is a rare form of Parkinsonism that progresses more quickly than Parkinson’s disease, and drugs generally effective against symptoms do not work as well,” said Nikolaus McFarland, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of neurology affiliated with UF’s Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration and Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases. “Our goal is to raise awareness and inform other health care providers how to diagnose and recognize the disease, as well as to learn more about it. If we can understand the mechanisms of the disease pathology, we can proceed with potential therapeutics.”

Also speaking will be Dennis Dickson, M.D., a professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, who will provide an update on the PSP brain bank. Direct examination of brain tissue through the microscope is the only way to verify the clinical diagnosis of PSP and similar diseases. Patients who decide to donate their tissue after death improve chances of finding a cure and treatment options.

UF presenters will include David Vaillancourt, Ph.D.,  and Chris Hass, Ph.D., of the department of applied physiology and kinesiology, and Jada Lewis, Ph.D., of the department of neuroscience.

Sessions begin at 8 a.m. in the DeWeese Auditorium of the McKnight Brain Institute.