Google co-founders Larry Page (left) and Sergey Brin (right) field
questions from an audience in front of a backdrop patterned with their company
logo. Photo: Associated Press / Noah Berger
It's just been announced that Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, is donating some of his marvelous profits from the world famous search engine to create a new study on Parkinson's Disease.
Sergey's wife, Ann Wojcicki, (the news media reported the name as Ann Wojcocki) co-owns a company for genome study called 23andMe. Her company, Sergey, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and the Parkinson's Institute of California will fund a DNA type test for Parkinson's sufferers to mail in. Referred to as a "spit kit", the genetic test usually costs around $400. Sergey will pay the difference and offer it to the members of these charities for $25, in hopes that more information can be used with the internet to speed up the treatment or cure for the disease.
This is one more reason that I have to love Google and the two boys who created it. My mother suffered from the disease and finally died from it after about 15 years. It is a horrible, crippling, and humiliating way to end your life...in some ways worse than Alzheimers. The medication taken for Parkinson's causes schizophrenic symptoms eventually, and creates a phenomenon called the on-off syndrome, in which you are either wired and jerking from the medication being so high, or frozen like stone as it has worn off. Tolerance to the medication "Sinemet" builds up until the dosage is too high for the body to handle. The worst part is that for most of the years the patient is fully aware of everything, yet cannot control his body - or even his senses - as hallucinations, uncontrollable movements, and freezing come and go.
Some progress was made with injecting embryonic stem cells directly into the brain, but was cut short with Bush's refusal to allow the usage of them. Michael J. Fox is probably hoping with all his heart that Obama's reversal of that foolish and wasteful law will allow him to find a cure before it is too late. Parkinson's Disease is particularly devastating to younger victims... progressing faster and more completely than with older ones. Part of the needed research may find out why this is so.
Sergey's mother suffers from Parkinson's Disease and he himself carries a gene variant that increases his odds of getting it.
Those who participate in the study will also complete surveys online that document their symptoms, history with the disease, types of medications they are on, and how their disease progresses.
I would not be the least bit surprised if Google's empire and its creators lead the world into a "Star Trek Universe" of conquered disease, the end to world hunger, and eventually going "where no man has gone before". I am ever hopeful, and so proud of those two and Google itself.