Research at BU aims to cure Parkinson's, while federal research funding is threatened

By Audrey Williams

February 22, 2013 Updated Feb 22, 2013 at 11:33 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- Cutting edge stem-cell research is being done right here in our own community. However, the looming federal sequestration is putting all research funding at risk.

Dr. Craig Cady along with seven of his students, are attempting to find a cure or treatment for Parkinson's Disease, heart disease and ovarian cancer on the campus of Bradley University.

"We have to understand the disease, how the stem cells can be used to treat the disease," said Dr. Cady.

He adds, with increasing technology they get closer to clinical trials all the time, "We're also in animal model research with our cancer work and then for our Parkinson's we're also very close to an animal model also."

East Peoria residents Barb and Roger Hallen visited the lab Friday afternoon.

Barb was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2008. She said, "You slowly slow down everything and the symptoms just year by year, it starts out on one side of your body and then develops."

Dr. Cady said each patient they meet is a huge motivator and allows them to put a face to the research.

"Everyday we're working with cells in a little petri dish and sometimes if you don't take a step back that's all it is. So it's a really big deal to get to meet patients and understand why we're doing this work," said Bradley sophomore Erin Koch.

Barb and Roger hope to take knowledge of this research to Washington, D. C. this weekend as they fight for Parkinson's research funding.

While funding for the project at Bradley comes mainly from the state and private foundations, similar research projects all around the nation could be threatened if the federal government goes through with proposed budget cuts on medical research.

"If the budget cuts that their talking about come in to play, Illinois stands to lose 1,160 research scientists just in the state of Illinois and that will have devastating effects," said Roger Hallen, Barb's
husband and State Director for the Parkinson's Action Network.

While Hallen's work to stop funding cuts, Dr. Cady will fight for a cure.

Wednesday February 27th the Parkinson's Action Network is encouraging residents to call their lawmakers to ask them to help in the fight for a cure. You can call the capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your senator or representative. For more information, visit www.parkinsonaction.org

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