Newswise — Pfizer’s announcement to halt support for research and development into Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease comes at a difficult time for the several million patients that currently suffer from these devastating neurodegenerative diseases, according to Binghamton University Professor of Psychology Christopher Bishop. This is compounded by the burgeoning elderly population, as new diagnoses are only expected to rise in the years to come.

"Yet, this trend of divestment is not new for large pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, who have found neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s either to be intractable to traditional pharmacological approaches or have had difficulty improving upon mainstay drugs.

"It remains to be seen how this strategic change in research and development by a major industry player will alter the trajectory towards treatments or cures, but it is clear that bolstering other sources of research will be paramount. Although the current Trump administration has threatened to cut medical research support, Congress has been largely supportive. In addition, companies like Pfizer have stated they will continue to invest in venture endeavors that might spawn new approaches for the future."

Bishop is currently conducting Parkinson's research that focuses not only on the treatment of the disease, but also in the side effects of treatment. Current projects, funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke and the Michael J. Fox Foundation, investigate neuroplasticity in the brain serotonin system that may provide a novel target for the reduction of Parkinsonian symptoms and side effects that occur as a result of chronic drug therapy.