GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A doctor at Van Andel Institute is explaining some of the research that is being done locally and globally with Parkinson’s disease.

World Parkinson’s Day is next week, on April 11. The date commemorates the birthday of Dr. James Parkinsons — who first recognized the disorder as a medical condition.

Van Andel Institute has been a big player in groundbreaking discoveries that have turned into clinical trials. Dr. Darren Moore, who leads a lab in Van Andel Research Institute’s Center for Neurodegenerative Science, said researchers understand a lot about the genetic aspect of Parkinson’s, which he described as a “very common movement disorder.”

“But in general, we still don’t have any therapies that will stop the disease in its tracks. We have symptomatic therapies,” said Moore.

He said Van Andel Institute is looking at the disease from many different angles and described three main areas of research: genetic risk, protein clumps that form with the disease, and infections that may be possibly linked to Parkinson’s.

The institute is also working with an agency in the United Kingdom to repurpose drugs the FDA has approved for other uses to see if they may work to protect the brain against Parkinson’s.

“Two of these drugs are a Type 2 diabetes drug that’s called Exenatide, but it seems to maybe work in Parkinson’s, and another drug is a cough syrup that’s used widely in Europe and we’re also repurposing this for Parkinson’s disease. Those two drugs right now are in phase 3 clinical trials, so we’ll know in a few years whether they’re effective,” said Moore.

He said it’s important to get the word out about the disease.

“This is also really important for policy makers, politicians, global health organizations to really understand what they can do now to come up with a kind of a plan for Parkinson’s to attack this disease and hopefully cure it in the next decades,” said Moore.