On 2 September, a Giant Public Pillow Fight took place in Luxembourg. While this was fun, it was equally a symbol of the fight that many wage every day against Parkinson’s disease: the afflicted, their families, doctors, nurses, researchers and many more.
Co-organised by the Rotary Club Luxembourg, the National Centre of Excellence in Research on Parkinson’s Disease (NCER-PD) and the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg, the event aimed to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease and the research activities carried out in Luxembourg.
The day started with opening speeches by Romain Becker (President of Rotary Interclub Luxembourg), Lydia Mutsch (Luxembourg Ministry of Health), Simone Beissel (Advisor to the mayor of the City of Luxembourg), Prof Rudi Balling (Director of the LCSB) and Mars Di Bartolomeo (President of the Chamber of Deputees).
Throughout the afternoon, hundreds of visitors of all ages joined the fights in front of the Grand Ducal Palace, bought pieces of the 100-m “Baamkuch” layer cake marking the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Foundation and visited the booths held by IBBL, the Centre Hospitalier Emile Mayrisch (CHEM), the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and the Scienteens Lab.
Amongst other things, they could discover what happens with the biological samples donated by the healthy volunteers and patients who participate to the national study. For the standard collection, donors are asked to give blood, urine and saliva, with the option of also donating stool, skin biopsies and cerebrospinal fluid. The collected samples are then brought to IBBL, where a laboratory technician extracts various components like cells and nucleic acids, and preserves them for long-term storage. Ultimately, the samples are distributed to the national and international research partners within NCER-PD, who analyse and compare them with the hope of identifying differences that could be exploited.
“Treatment of this disease has improved considerably in recent years, but there is still a lot to do,” says Prof. Dr. Rejko Krüger, head of NCER-PD and a neurologist at the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL). “One of the biggest problems so far is that there are hardly any patient-specific therapies. The disease can be triggered by any number of different genetic or external factors. So, one person’s Parkinson’s differs from another’s. Only once we have understood the diversity of causes, we will be able to work on developing therapies that take into account the patient’s personal situation. The project that will be funded by the proceeds from this event is another important component in this.”
The proceeds from the campaign will go to the National Centre of Excellence in Research on Parkinson’s Disease (NCER-PD) and help fund a project to research the genetic causes of Parkinson’s.
Should you be interested in taking part in the study or in learning more, please visit this website.
Source: http://parkinson.lu/index.php/en/en-news/283-pillow-fight-news Photos: ©Olivier Dessy