YouTube joins Silicon Valley's 'Fight for Mike'

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YouTube joins Silicon Valley's 'Fight for Mike'

A team of U.S. neuroscientists have launched a new YouTube video channel in a move to promote awareness of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia.

The channel is the latest outcome of the Silicon Valley “Fight for Mike” initiative and aims to support caregivers, patients and their families, promote earlier diagnoses, and attract more patients into research studies and clinical trials.

Named for -- and inspired by -- former Apple Computer and Netscape Computer employee Michael Homer, “Fight for Mike” has the mission to advance scientists’ understanding of Homer’s rare, fatal illness, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).

The video-sharing channel is said to be the brainchild of physicians at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and YouTube CEO and co-founder Chad Hurley, a protégé of Homer's.

“I hope that the UCSF channel will provide scientists, researchers, and physicians a valuable communication tool as they search for solutions, and patients and their families another way to help cope with these tragic diseases,” Hurley said in a statement.

“Mike is an inspirational friend, and I am grateful for the efforts that many have made in the quest to advance medical research of neurodegenerative diseases.”

The YouTube channel will support a Web page dedicated to CJD on the Web site of the UCSF Memory and Aging Centre.

The channel will host videos for the page, as well as videos on other forms of dementia, including frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Huntington’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

The team also has reached into online social networking tools via the creation of a Facebook group called “Defeat Dementia”.

“The YouTube channel and these other forms of online communications will enable us to engage a broad audience in the fight against these illnesses,” said Bruce Miller, director of the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, in a statement.

“One goal is to increase awareness about the earliest signs of some of the less well known diseases, including FTD [frontotemporal dementia] and CJD [Creutzfelt Jakob disease],” Miller said.

“If we can promote accurate diagnoses of patients, we can get them into clinical trials sooner. We believe that early intervention with novel therapies will be key to stalling and halting these diseases.”

The CJD Web site launched this week, following a US$200,000 investment from the “Fight for Mike” initiative.

Since it started in June 2007, the “Fight for Mike” initiative has raised more than US$7 million for CJD research at UCSF.

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