Gift to find Parkinson’s cure

A gift of $20,000 from a sufferer of Parkinson’s disease who died recently will help Western Australian researchers in their quest to find a cure.

One of the man’s daughters, Assistant Professor Karen Upton-Davis, is a researcher and lecturer at the University of Western Australia's (UWA) School of Population Health.

Professor Upton-Davis said her father, the late John Upton, bequeathed the sum to the Parkinson's Association of Western Australia in the hope of progressing knowledge of Parkinson's disease and ultimately relieving the suffering of those affected by it.

Mr Upton was diagnosed with Parkinson's at the age of 49 and lived until he was 81. The south-west dairy farmer was reportedly “rocked” by the diagnosis of Parkinson's, Assistant Professor Upton-Davis said.

“Then his characteristic resilience, sense of humour, and country-boy non-complaining perseverance rose to the surface. 

“He continued to play lawn bowls until very recent years, and until the end of his life was able to walk, talk and feed himself. He was an inspiration to others in the way he mentally handled his condition.”

Parkinson’s disease is Australia's second most common neurological condition after dementia and affects about four out of every 1,000 Australians. The incidence increases to one in 100 beyond the age of 60.

Several groups at UWA are now undertaking different research into improving the lives of the sufferers of Parkinson's disease, from using the party drug ecstasy to develop medicines that curb involuntary movements, to developing stem cell replacement therapies.

Read DPS News’ story on the link between ecstasy and Parkinson’s disease.

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