This Special Issue of the European Journal of Neuroscience (EJN) has been put together by NECTAR (the Network for European CNS Transplantation & Restoration) in collaboration with Cure Parkinson’s in memory of our late President and Co-founder Tom Isaacs who sadly passed away suddenly in May 2017.
We are delighted that some superb research articles will be featured in this EJN Special Edition which is now published (February 2019). In celebration of Tom and this wonderful opportunity with the EJN, we have featured some the articles from this expert group of contributors below. Some are ‘open access’, some ‘free to read’ and some are open access for a limited time only.
“Tom was a very special person who did more than anyone in my professional life to promote finding a cure for Parkinson’s – his endless zeal, inventiveness tenacity and vision has forever changed the landscape of Parkinson’s therapeutics. This special issue captures many of these stories and developments in a way that reflects not only what Tom achieved but also captures this at a personal level with many of those who have contributed.”
Professor Roger Barker, Professor of Clinical Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge and Consultant Neurologist at the Addenbrooke’s Hospital Cambridge.
Tom established the importance of the voice of people with Parkinson’s and their families in research. His vision was that neurologists and scientists, together with patients and their carers, should come together to form a new force to change the approach to therapeutic trials in Parkinson’s, with the ultimate aim of providing a cure for all those living with Parkinson’s. Read ‘In memory of Tom Isaacs: The epitomical mover and shaker’ by Lyndsey Isaacs, (Tom’s wife pictured with Tom), Eilis Dowd and Prof. Roger Barker.
“There are a few people that I’ve come across during my journey with Parkinson’s disease, people that you can see are visionary, whose dedication to the community is so selfless and passionate that you can’t help but be inspired by them. Tom Isaacs embodied those qualities. His insightful and impactful vision of patient involvement in identifying needs and urgently pursuing the discovery and development of better treatments and the search for a cure, will be a part of his legacy. His words will, I’m sure, continue to inspire the Parkinson’s community to continue to work together to reach our common goal – a world without Parkinson’s.” Read Soania Mathur’s (M.D.) tribute to Tom in her article ‘The Power of the Parkinson’s Patient According to Tom Isaacs: A Call to Action’.
Dr Tilo Kunath, Reader in Regenerative Neurobiology at the University of Edinburgh, met Tom many times. Tilo and his team have contributed two articles to this special edition – ‘Engineering synucleinopathy‐resistant human dopaminergic neurons by CRISPR‐mediated deletion of the SNCA gene‘ – a research report demonstrating that genetically reducing alpha synuclein, using gene editing, results in a measure of resistance to one of the pathological hallmarks of Parkinson’s, alpha-synuclein, and the second – ‘Are PARKIN patients ideal candidates for dopaminergic cell replacement therapies’ where the authors propose that individuals with early-onset Parkinson’s is associated with a PARKIN genetic variant and are the ideal candidates for cell transplantation therapy. Tilo said of Tom:
“Tom Isaacs is a hero and a legend, and a damn good singer. He converted so many people into zealous advocates for a Parkinson’s cure, including myself…partly through lobbying and education, but mostly through sheer charismatic inspiration. I could not pass up the opportunity to submit a research article and an opinion piece to a Special Issue of EJN dedicated to his memory. I hope he would have approved of the work, and perhaps written some lyrics of the conclusions. I, and many others, miss him dearly – but he continues to inspire as strongly as ever.”
Alastair Noyce (left) is a Clinical Senior Lecturer in the Preventive Neurology Unit at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London. “This special edition of the EJN pays tribute to one of the truly inspirational characters that I have met during my career in neurology. From his unique perspective as a patient, Tom drove the field forward and never wavered in his commitment to finding and supporting research into cures. I had the great privilege of meeting Tom in multiple settings; in the outpatient clinic, at meetings and at research conferences. He was always enthusiastic and optimistic, and he is greatly missed. It is a great personal honour to be able to contribute to this EJN Special Edition” – ‘The Prodromes of Parkinson’s Disease’
Professor Malin Parmar (left), whose article, ‘Cell‐based therapy for Parkinson’s disease: A journey through decades toward the light side of the Force’ said, “Tom Isaacs and his relentless endeavours to create awareness and raise money for research has been invaluable to the Parkinson community. Getting to know Tom also meant a lot to me as a person. Out of all the things Tom taught me, there is especially one quote that will always stay with me: ‘Patents don’t care what you know, until they know how much you care.’ With his absolutely fantastic sense of humour he showed me that nothing is too serious to joke about and that it is always possible to have a good time. It is in the spirit of Tom we wrote the review with a Star Wars twist, I know he would have loved every bit of it!”
Professor Patrik Brundin (pictured left with Tom) leads the Center for Neurodegenerative Science at Van Andel Research Institute, Michigan and knew and worked closely with Tom, “Tom Isaacs was a force of nature whose passionate and dedicated efforts were a catalyst for collaboration and clinical translation aimed toward a singular goal — curing Parkinson’s. This special edition is a tribute to the years of hard work Tom put toward improving the lives of people with the disease and a reflection of the significant progress being made in our understanding of Parkinson’s and developing ways to slow or stop progression.” Patrik contributed his paper: ‘Genetically engineered stem cell‐derived neurons can be rendered resistant to alpha‐synuclein aggregate pathology‘
And finally Patrik Brundin and Dr Richard Wyse (Director of Research & Development ) collaborated on an inspiring paper discussing the International Linked Clinical Trials programme: – Richard said of his and Tom’s initial idea, our “…intention was to create, with a sense of urgent enthusiasm, a major clinical trials initiative that focused entirely on therapeutics that had potential to become fundamentally disease-modifying. We took the view that we should concentrate only on treatments that may have the potential actively to reduce or abolish the trajectory of neurodegeneration experienced by almost all patients with Parkinson’s and thereby intercept the year-on-year progression of the disease. We made an early decision not to explore any new symptomatic treatments within the LCT initiative as these were already being extensively pursued in commercial clinical development programmes which industry saw at that time to have greater marketable potential.”
See the full list of contributed articles in this special edition : https://nectar-eu.com/update-on-tom-isaacs-ejn-special-issue/