Michael J Fox is 'hopeful' for Parkinson's cure

Michael J Fox has opened up about his hopes of finding a cure for Parkinson's disease, pictured in October 2019, in New York. (Getty Images)
Michael J Fox has opened up about his hopes of finding a cure for Parkinson's disease, pictured in October 2019, in New York. (Getty Images)

Michael J Fox has shared a hopeful update on research into finding a cure for Parkinson's disease.

The Back to the Future star was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's disease in 1991 at the age of 29 - and has been working to help find a cure for the progressive nervous system disorder since the launch of the Michael J Fox foundation a decade later.

The actor appeared on The One Show with his Back to the Future co-star, Christopher LLoyd, and as well as discussing the new musical adaption of the film, Fox also opened up about his work to find a cure for Parkinson's disease.

"I’m very hopeful - the billion dollars is not only raised, it’s a billion dollars aimed at research so whatever the cost we raise, the majority of it goes straight on research,” he told hosts Jermaine Jenas and Sam Quek.

“We think we’re beating down a lot of doors," he continued.

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“There’s a lot of different avenues for us to process from all different points of view from the scientific community, but we think we have a chance to provide some answers."

He went on to add: "And we think within 10 years or so we could be into some really active treatments and quite a few cures."

Watch: Michael J Fox was forced to retire from acting!

In a separate interview with ITV news, the actor also shared a plea for scientists to adopt the same rapid working collaboration they utilised to develop COVID vaccines to help find a cure to life-limiting conditions.

While he is grateful his foundation has raised more than $1bn for research programmes since its founding in 2000, he believes more could be done to help tackle the disease.

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"We saw with the virus that when the smartest people in the world get together and say we are going to get this done – they get it done," he told ITV News.

"The vaccine was super quick. You don't appreciate how quick that was. And so if we can apply that same guerrilla warfare attack on diseases and conditions and cancers [and] just focus commando rays on it. Just like go at it."

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Michael J Fox has been living with Parkinson's since 1991, pictured in April 2019 in New York. (Getty Images)
Michael J Fox has been living with Parkinson's since 1991, pictured in April 2019 in New York. (Getty Images)

Fox has previously opened up about living with the condition and his initial reaction to being diagnosed.

“That is one of the few times in my life I felt like saying, ‘Do you know who I am? This is ridiculous, you can’t tell me that'," he told CBS Sunday Morning. "This was a case when I just thought, This is preposterous that this is happening to me.”

While he acknowledged that dealing with Parkinson’s disease has become a perpetual struggle, Fox explained that he was in a privileged position to be able to help find a cure.

“I wish I wasn’t in this situation,” he said, “but it’s been one of the great gifts in my life that I’ve been in the position to take my view of the suckitude of it and merge it with other people’s view of the suckitude of it and try to find an answer.”

In the ITV news interview he echoed those sentiments: "Parkinson's is a gift" he acknowledged, that has allowed him "to step in and do something he would not have done otherwise."

Despite his optimism and hopes to find a cure, the star also pointed out that the condition does "keep on taking".

Parkinson's disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years, affecting movement, muscle control and balance, according to the NHS.

Figures from the charity, Parkinson’s UK show that around 145,000 people (or one in 350 adults) have been diagnosed with it in this country alone.

The three main symptoms are tremor, stiffness and slowness of movement.

However, people may also experience other signs, including problems with sleep and memory, as well as mental health issues.

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In 2020, a study indicated that drinking tea or coffee could help stave off the effects of Parkinson's disease.

The degenerative brain condition has been shown in previous research to be less prevalent among people who consumed beverages containing caffeine.

But in findings, published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, scientists at Harvard Medical School have discovered that caffeine and another compound, urate, had protective properties in humans, after it was shown to help animals.

Researchers interviewed 369 individuals with Parkinson's and 197 people without, with their urate and caffeine levels measured.

The scientists found the likelihood of developing the condition decreased significantly with increasing caffeine consumption, adjusting for age, sex and Body Mass Index (BMI).

Watch: 74-year-old grandma battles Parkinson's in the ring.