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Neuroscientist awarded $2.9M NIH grant to improve Parkinson’s disease treatment

Dr. David Eidelberg, neuroscience researcher.
Dr. David Eidelberg, neuroscience researcher.

Professor David Eidelberg, MD, to study levodopa's effects


Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research Professor David Eidelberg, MD, has received a five-year, $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support his research in developing a way to delay or prevent negative effects of a common treatment in those with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the United States. Patients often experience tremors, slowness of movement (bradykinesia), rigidity and impaired balance and coordination, which results in difficulty walking, talking and/or completing simple everyday tasks. Levodopa is the drug most frequently used to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. However, most patients taking daily levodopa for five years or more develop levodopa-induced dyskinesias (LID) – uncontrolled, involuntary movements that appear shortly after each medication dose. This potentially disabling side effect poses a major challenge in the long-term management of patients living with Parkinson's disease.

Dr. Eidelberg and his team were the first to observe uncoupling of the cerebrovascular and neuronal responses to dopamine in Parkinson's disease, a phenomenon that was exaggerated in LID. They will continue their research on the neurovascular dysregulation underlying LID by tracing these changes over time in levodopa-treated Parkinson’s disease patients as they develop LID. The NIH grant supports his study titled Neurovascular Effects of Dopamine Replacement Therapy in Parkinson's Disease.

Examining neurological disease through functional brain networks

“Since levodopa is regularly used to help ease the effects of Parkinson’s disease, it is essential to understand the therapy’s full effects on the cerebral blood vessels as well as neurons,” said Dr. Eidelberg, the Susan and Leonard Feinstein Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience, and head of the Center for Neurosciences in the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the Feinstein Institutes. “With this research, we hope to slow down or stop the development of LID in Parkinson’s patients.”

Dr. Eidelberg is internationally recognized for his work using functional brain networks as biomarkers of neurological disease. Using functional brain imaging and advanced computational techniques, he and his research team at the Feinstein Institutes identified disease-specific network biomarkers to aid in diagnosis, monitor disease progression and assess treatment effects in patients with neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson's.

“Dr. Eidelberg is a leader in Parkinson’s disease research,” said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes. “This further support of his work by NIH offers a new path to understand this syndrome.”