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Making a Financial Impact on Pennsylvania’s Communities

“Sporting events represent an integral part of the Pennsylvania economy,” said Sertz. “The market is diverse, including youth and adult amateur, college and professional events that attract out-of-town visitors to destinations across the Commonwealth. These visitors generate room nights and spending in local economies that produce substantial tax revenues and employment impacts. Thanks to the sales and marketing efforts of PA Sports, our team reports increased annual sporting events, which means a positive economic impact for Pennsylvania.”

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No Mutation Needed: New Treatments Being Developed for a Small Group of Parkinson’s Patients May Work for Most People with the Disease

7/5/2018

PITTSBURGH – A gene linked to 3 to 4 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease could play an important role in most, if not all, people with the disease, according to new study findings from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC. The gene, called LLRK2, was previously thought to only cause disease when mutated, but researchers have found that it may be just as significant in the non-hereditary form of the disease, according to the study published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“This discovery is extremely consequential for Parkinson’s disease because it suggests that therapies currently being developed for a small group of patients may benefit everybody with the disease,” said senior author J. Timothy Greenamyre, M.D., Ph.D., Love Family Professor of Neurology in Pitt’s School of Medicine, chief of the Movement Disorders Division at UPMC and director of the Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases (PIND).

Parkinson’s affects one million people in the U.S. and as many as 10 million worldwide and has no known cause, but is thought to involve both genetic and environmental factors. In 2004, researchers discovered that mutations in the LRRK2 gene (commonly pronounced as “Lark2”), overactivated the protein and caused Parkinson’s in a small group of people, often in a hereditary fashion. However, the LRRK2 protein is difficult to study because it is present in extremely small amounts in nerve cells that are affected in Parkinson’s.

To overcome this problem, Greenamyre and his team engineered a molecular ‘beacon’ that attached to LRRK2 and glowed red under a microscope only if the protein was active. This allowed them to also reveal the nerve cells in which LRRK2 was active in the brain.

The researchers applied the test to postmortem brain tissue donated to science by Parkinson’s patients, none of whom had mutations in LRRK2, and healthy individuals of approximately the same age.

Remarkably, the test indicated that in ‘dopamine neurons,’ which are the brain cells most commonly affected in Parkinson’s, LRRK2 was highly active in individuals affected by the disease, but not in the healthy individuals. This suggests that LRRK2 overactivity may be important in all people with Parkinson’s, not just those who have a mutation in the gene.

A second major finding of the study was that it connected two proteins that have separately been recognized as important players in causing Parkinson’s – LRRK2 and alpha-synuclein. Accumulation of alpha-synuclein leads to the formation of structures called ‘Lewy bodies,’ a hallmark of Parkinson’s.

While enormous efforts have been focused on alpha-synuclein, the cause of its accumulation is still poorly understood. Using a rodent model of Parkinson’s induced by an environmental toxin, Greenamyre and his team discovered that activation of LRRK2 blocked the mechanisms that cells use to clear excess alpha-synuclein, leading directly to its accumulation. The researchers then treated the animals with a drug currently being developed to treat familial Parkinson’s patients by blocking LRRK2 activity. The drug prevented the accumulation of alpha-synuclein and formation of Lewy bodies.

“LRRK2 ties together both genetic and environmental causes of Parkinson’s, as we were able to show that external factors like oxidative stress or toxins can activate LRRK2, which can in turn cause Lewy bodies to form in the brain,” noted lead author Roberto Di Maio, Ph.D., an assistant professor in Greenamyre’s lab and a researcher at the Ri.MED Foundation.

In the future, Greenamyre expects to build on these findings to discover how neurodegeneration caused by LRRK2 overactivation can be prevented, and identify how oxidative stress and environmental toxins cause LRRK2 activation.

Study co-authors include Eric K. Hoffman, Ph.D., Emily M. Rocha, Ph.D., Matthew T. Keeney, Briana R. De Miranda, Ph.D., Teresa G. Hastings, Ph.D., Alevtina Zharikov, Ph.D., and Amber Van Laar, M.D., from PIND; Antonia Stepan, Ph.D., and Thomas A. Lanz, Ph.D., from Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development; Julia K. Kofler, M.D., of Pitt; Edward A. Burton, M.D., of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and PIND; Dario R. Alessi, from the University of Dundee; and Laurie H. Sanders, Ph.D., of Duke University and PIND.

This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants NS100744, R21ES027470, NS095387 and AG005133, the Blechman Foundation, the American Parkinson Disease Association, University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute, Michael J. Fox Foundation grant 6986, Medical Research Council grant MC_UU_12016/2, and friends and family of Sean Logan. The University of Dundee’s Division of Signal Transduction Therapy Unit received support from pharmaceutical companies Boehringer‐Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, and Merck KGaA. Greenamyre briefly held an advisory position at Pfizer. The authors declared no further competing financial interests.

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Monroeville Police Fighting Crime With Surveillance Cameras

MONROEVILLE (KDKA) — For the last few months, the Monroeville Police Department has been fighting crime with technology.

Cameras have been set up all around the municipality to catch suspected criminals.

“If you come here to commit a crime, you will be seen, you will be caught,” said Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala.

The district attorney is praising the surveillance camera monitors at the Monroeville Police station, saying it’s changing the movement of crime by using technology.

Monroeville has had the system in place for three months.

So, with 25 cameras in place in Monroeville, several at busy intersections like at 22-48, the question is – are the cameras doing what they were designed to do?

Monroeville Police Chief Doug Cole admits he didn’t embrace the technology at first, but says now, it has gone above and beyond his expectations.

“Last night, we had an incident where we assisted the Pitcairn Police Department with a double shooting. We were able to place the getaway vehicle after we did some detective work and be able to go back and trace where it left and how it left our community,” Monroeville Police Chief Doug Cole said.

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Additional Surveillance Cameras Now Operational in Monroeville

ADDITIONAL SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS NOW OPERATIONAL IN MONROEVILLE

Pittsburgh PA —- Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., along with officials from Monroeville, announced today that additional surveillance cameras are now operational throughout Monroeville. The pledge to provide additional cameras had been announced a few weeks ago at a meeting of Monroeville business owners and community leaders and is a collaborative effort involving the DA’s Office, the Municipality of Monroeville, Visit Monroeville and the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce.

“These additional cameras are a top priority for our community and will be a very effective tool for our police force,” said Monroeville Mayor Greg Erosenko.

“I am very pleased at the cooperation of our business leaders and residents banding together for the common goal of ensuring that Monroeville is a safe place to raise families and to provide a positive experience to everyone visiting our community,” added Sean Logan, President of Visit Monroeville and the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce.

The cameras will stream back to a central location where they will be monitored in real time, part of a two year effort to utilize the latest technology at a time when the City of Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania are being recognized nationally for their roles in technological innovations.

“The safety of a community should be an inclusive process and cameras are an important part of that process because we see what the camera sees in an objective fashion,” said D.A. Zappala. “The way that Monroeville has implemented this project with input from all the stakeholders should be a model for other communities.”

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MEDIA NOTE: REPORTERS WISHING GET MORE INFORMATION CAN CALL SEAN LOGAN AT (412) 856-7422.

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12 Video Cameras to Act as Eyes for Monroeville

Samson X Horne
By Samson X Horne | Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016, 10:57 p.m.

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office will provide 12 high-resolution video cameras to monitor vehicles throughout Monroeville in an effort to reduce crime.

District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. told Monroeville public officials, businesses leaders and some residents about the initiative Tuesday.

“We’ve found over the years that the best deterrent to crime is knowing you’re going to be seen and knowing you’re going to get caught,” Zappala said.

Supplying the new cameras, which have license plate recognition capabilities at a cost of about $4,000 each, “is a continuation of what was started after the shooting at the mall,” said Mike Manko, spokesman for Zappala.

Officials declined to disclose locations for the cameras.

Police say Tarod Thornhill, 18, of Penn Hills opened fire into a crowd at Macy’s at the Monroeville Mall in 2015, wounding three people. His trial is scheduled for Oct. 17. Officials implemented a youth escort policy on weekends and reopened a police substation in the mall after the shooting.

The cameras through the DA’s office are an expansion of surveillance cameras in place in Monroeville, said Sean Logan, CEO of Visit Monroeville and president of the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce. The Monroeville Police Department monitors those cameras.

“We’re really just bringing crime prevention to the next level. We have to take the next step in crime prevention, and that’s technology with cameras,” Logan said.

The recognition software in the cameras will serve as “virtual checkpoints” in Monroeville, which is home to a busy shopping district, hospitals, the Community College of Allegheny County’s Boyce campus, and the Monroeville Convention Center. About 28,000 people live in the community, located at the “crossroads” of Interstate 376, Route 22 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Monroeville Mayor Greg Erosenko encouraged business leaders to get involved by installing their own cameras that would link with the other cameras; doing so, he said, not only will assist with law enforcement but will “help your customers feel safe.”

“Let’s be honest, bad guys don’t want their face on film,” Erosenko said.

Monroeville police Chief Doug Cole said such a linked system is possible.

Two men were wounded in a daylight shooting June 21 outside a shopping center near the Monroeville Mall. Their injuries were not life-threatening. Bullets damaged the storefronts of two businesess.

“With these cameras, if you’re going to commit a crime, you’re going to get caught,” Logan said.

Samson X Horne is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach him at 412-320-7845 or shorne@tribweb.com.

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