Research on Parkinson's disease continues at UNMC, doctors reveal results of latest study

Doctors at UNMC held a news conference on 3/23/17 to announce the results of their clinical trial on Parkinson's disease.

Omaha is now ground zero for a study that could save millions of lives.

Right now there is no cure for Parkinson's disease and thousands of people in Nebraska are fighting it.

However, there's a new study happening in Omaha and it's bringing doctors one step closer to stopping this disease for good.

Dan Lombardo said, "To have someone tell me that you're going to start going downhill from here was a little tough."

Lombardo was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 10 years ago.

"I was awfully nervous. It causes you to do a lot of self-reflection."

He's only 63 and he says he still has a lot of things he wants to do.

"I would love to travel.”

However, having Parkinson's disease makes this pretty tough. The medication Lombardo takes right now only helps him for a few hours a day.

Lombardo said, "You have the tendency to stop and you can't move. You can't lift your feet. It's like cement shoes on or something."

He says he's tried to stay hopeful, especially when he got involved in a new clinical trial at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Lombardo said, "I noticed my tremors were a lot less and they weren't as often."

During the trial, he and a small group of Parkinson's patients injected themselves. Some got a drug called Sargramostim while others got water or something else that's called a placebo.

Dr. Pamela Santamaria, one of the people who’s been working on the clinical trial, said, "It actually goes beyond just treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It actually goes to treat the underlying problems that we're seeing with Parkinson’s disease."

Some patients did have side effects like skin irritation and bone pain, but doctors say with the drug injections improvements were seen in patients' brains and cells.

Lombardo said, "The hope that UNMC has put before me has always made me a little bit stronger."

UNMC will be doing another Parkinson's study in a year or two, that's after an oral medicine is made. That study will include a larger group of patients.

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