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Funds go to assist research in fight against multiple system atrophy

Frank Cervone is dying from multiple system atrophy but in the meantime he will be helping Western Michigan University researchers as they seek a treatment for the disease that is claiming his life.

The man from Fairborn, Ohio, and his family traveled to WMU earlier this year to give the university researchers at $3,350 check, funds raised in what may be the first race to raise awareness of the disease.

Multiple System Atrophy is rare neurological degenerative disorder believed to be found in about 100,000 people. The condition is associated with the degeneration of nerve cells in specific areas of the brain. Cell degeneration causes problems with movement, balance and normally automatic functions of the body, such as blood pressure. The cause of the condition is unknown.

Cervone’s family met with researchers, led by Dr. Charles Ide, who discussed their work using gene expression techniques they are using to develop a therapy. "We're trying to help people who suffer debilitation equivalent to that seen in the worst neurological diseases and who retain full understanding of what is happening to them," Ide says.

The family says it hopes the race will grow in coming years and that they will be able to offer further funds for research as that happens.

Cervone's wife, Susan, says they carefully looking into who should get the funds. "We narrowed it down to two universities, and the response we got from WMU was just so much more personal," she says.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Cheryl Roland, Western Michigan University
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