"If I knew that my patient had one of these genetic variants, I wouldn't treat him any differently than my other Parkinson's patients," he said. The next step, he said, would be to figure out exactly how the brain is damaged by Parkinson's disease.
This research does not go that far -- nor does it offer a new treatment approach for patients like Cook, who has now lived with the disease for four years. But despite this, she said she feels the research is still useful. As a Parkinson's Disease Foundation research advocate, she said she has noticed that when patients volunteer for studies, their attitudes change.
"They no longer feel like victims," she says, adding that the ability to actively participate in advancing the knowledge of Parkinson's disease is therapy in and of itself.
Cook herself has participated in seven different research trials. She continues to be proactive about her disease and also educates newly diagnosed patients through two support groups she runs.
"Parkinson's is the best worst thing that ever happened to me," she said.