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The Florey
Dear <<First Name>>, 

As 2020 comes to a close, I want to wish you well and thank you for your generous support this year. I also wanted to tell you more about an exciting Florey breakthrough you may have glimpsed in the news.

COVID-19 has disrupted our world in unthinkable ways. It’s caused massive loss and destruction. And as if the immediate attack hasn’t been enough, the evidence base is building about a second silent wave of serious neurological consequences in survivors.

Thanks to your support <<First Name>>, our scientists are exploring new avenues of research to keep ahead of the curve of this ominous next wave. 

Although scientists are still learning how the virus invades the brain, the fact that it’s getting in there is clear. As Florey Professor Kevin Barnham explains, “the virus can cause an insult to brain cells, with potential for neurodegeneration to follow on from there. Parkinson’s disease is one such possible consequence”.
I invite you to donate today and join us in our mission to beat the silent wave
One up and coming Florey researcher, Leah Beauchamp, was sniffing around this issue as she completed her PhD back in April. Our resident “smellspert” Leah told me, “I was keeping up to date with events in the Northern Hemisphere and the impact it was having on smell. The more I read, the more convinced I was of the links between COVID-19 and a possible wave of Parkinson’s disease. It dawned on me that history was repeating itself. The Spanish flu was linked to an undeniable increase in Parkinson’s over a century ago. In 1918 we didn’t know that loss of smell was connected to Parkinson’s. Today, we know that loss of smell occurs a decade before more debilitating symptoms set in.”

Along with Florey Parkinson’s disease experts like Professor Kevin Barnham and Professor David Finkelstein, Leah is determined to turn this crisis into a win for the people living with Parkinson’s.

They have been deeply affected by the pandemic. According to Professor Finkelstein, “increased isolation has made it difficult for people living with Parkinson’s to get regular treatment and has also led to increased levels of depression.”

Putting the virus aside, one of the most horrible things about the disease is that we can treat symptoms, but sadly still can’t stop it from developing.

Unfortunately, by the time symptoms such as loss of motor skills present, it is simply too late to repair the damage that has already occurred to the synapses. Early detection is key to beating this disease.
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Will you join us in the search to find new treatments that allow Parkinson’s to be detected and treated as early as possible?
Leah’s optimism is contagious. At just 27 years of age, she dreams of a world where the worst symptom a Parkinson’s patient experiences is loss of smell.

With your support <<First Name>>, we can make this a reality. We’re developing new ways to improve early diagnosis and enhance clinical interventions for Parkinson’s disease.

One accessible and cost-effective way may be as straightforward as a sniff test which can identify loss of smell as a possible red flag before symptoms such as tremors set in.
Not everyone who gets COVID-19 will develop more serious problems, but the reality is that some people will.
We are excited about the potential that a simple 20-minute test has to revolutionise Parkinson’s. We are also building an online tool for the general public. It will ask a series of questions and indicate your risk level of developing Parkinson’s. If there is a concern, you will be directed to your GP. It will provide cheaper and more realistic diagnostics. We envisage that it could be like the national bowel cancer screening program. This is really exciting as it’s never been done anywhere in the world before.

We don’t want to generate fear. We want to create awareness, hope and a way forward.

We want people to be self-aware. If you observe a serious shift in your olfactory system, you might want to consider getting advice from your GP. 
We are also working to raise awareness among clinicians so they can help with early detection.
The screening would measure your ability to smell properly and test the function of other parts of your brain; the results of which may signal early indications of Parkinson’s disease. This testing would take a massive burden off our public health system and give quality of life to Parkinson’s patients through early diagnosis.

<<First Name>>, I hope this story has inspired you as much as your generosity inspires me.

Thank you again for all your support throughout this challenging year.

Warmest wishes to you, and a happy and safe new year for your loved ones.

Steve

Professor Steven Petrou
Director, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health


P.S. Your gift will directly support scientists like Leah, Kevin and David to continue their quest for answers.
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