Week of 7.24.17

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Detroit Music Weekend Gala

The inaugural Detroit Music Weekend began Friday night at the Detroit Opera House where 200 music lovers gathered for the Gala ($750 & $1,000 tickets). They savored cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres in the lobby, pausing for brief welcoming remarks delivered from the top of the grand staircase by founding director, Music Hall’s Vince Paul. A soaring operatic selection sung by soprano Nicole James signaled it was time for dinner, which was served at dramatically decorated tables set on the stage. There were interruptions to thank sponsors, board members and event coordinator Laura Raisch, and to salute Michigan Opera Theatre founder David DiChiera. His pancreatic cancer diagnosis has dictated his retirement but has not affected his good humor nor his bearing.
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This weeks social light photos…

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oakland confidential

August 2017

HORSE RACES: Democratic aspirations of taking a majority hold on Congress after the 2018 General Election will hinge on the party’s ability to take two dozen congressional seats, which may include upsets in Michigan’s 8th and 11th Districts, according to recent rankings of 82 districts by The New York Times. The piece split the districts into eight groups to watch, based on competitiveness ...more»
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02/21/2017 - J. William Langston was working as the head of neurology in July of 1982 at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, in California, where a 42-year-old heroin addict was brought from the county jail after suddenly becoming unable to move or speak

Admitted for possible catatonic schizophrenia, Langston found that the patient appeared to be cognitive but unable to control his motor skills. The symptoms, he said, resembled those typically displayed by older patients during the advanced stages of Parkinson's disease. Stiff, rigid and in a frozen state, five more zombie-like addicts began arriving at San Francisco Bay Area emergency rooms.

"A group of heroin addicts in the 1980s all developed full-blown Parkinson's disease overnight," Langston said, recounting the episode that ultimately led to a scientific breakthrough in the research of Parkinson's disease and linked its risk to a number of herbicides. "It looked identical to advanced Parkinson's. It was called 'the walking dead' on the street. Nobody had ever seen anything like it. Eventually, we found out what was going on."

The connection, so to speak, was a clandestine chemist who had cooked a bad batch of MPPP, a painkiller similar to Demerol first created in 1947 as an alternative to morphine. In 1976, the formula resurfaced when a 23-year-old chemistry student used the recipe to create an uncontrolled designer drug to be used as a synthetic heroin. The student, by no small coincidence, developed the same Parkinsonian symptoms as the addicts seen by Langston in 1982.

Working with law enforcement, Langston was able to find the source of the drug, analyze its chemical compound and identify an unintentional impurity called MPTP, which is created during the manufacture of MPPP when its temperature gets too high.

"They not only got high, but they became stiff and rigid," Langston said. "The drug they injected isn't toxic at all. But (MPTP) is a compound that can get in the brain, and once it gets there, it's converted to MPP+, and that's the toxin. It gets into the brain and wipes it out like a Nike missile. It's unbelievable how incredibly toxic it is."

Because Parkinson's disease isn't known to naturally occur in any species other than humans, researchers had no way to replicate the disease in animals prior to Langston's discovery. Within months of the finding, they were able to induce Parkinsonian symptoms in monkeys by using MPTP.

In 1988, Langston founded the Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center in Sunnyvale, California, where he now serves as Chief Scientific Officer. The non-profit, independent institute provides basic and clinical research, clinical trials and patient care for Parkinson's disease and related neurological movement disorders.

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