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Parkinson’s breakthroughs bring star back to primetime

May 15, 2013

    Hanna Jaquith, Daily Briefing

    When Michael J. Fox returns to primetime television this fall, he will be playing a familiar role: A news anchor who returns to work after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

    Fox, who became a star with his role as Alex Keaton on NBC's "Family Ties," stepped away from his starring role on "Spin City" in 2000 to focus on his battle with Parkinson's disease, a degenerative condition that can cause tremors, stiffness, and cognitive impairment, Bloomberg reports.

    In 2000, Fox founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, which has raised $325 million for new drug development. The foundation works closely with pharmaceutical companies Sanofi and Bristol Myers-Squibb to keep experimental treatments moving through the pipeline.

    Fox discussed his drug regimen in an interview last year on ABC's "World News with Diane Sawyer." He told Sawyer that a drug combo that includes amantadine, which was originally used to treat the flu, helped reduce his dyskinesia, the uncontrolled movements related to long-term use of the Parkinson's drug levodopa.

    Fox credits that drug combo for reducing the tremors that made work challenging. "Once that was tackled, to the point where I can be as still as I am now, I thought, 'There's no reason not to work," he says, joking, "Now I have less dyskinesia and don't get the flu, so that's kinda nice."

    Although Fox has guest starred on many shows since leaving Spin City, "The Michael J. Fox Show" will be his first starring role in more than 10 years. According to an NBC spokesperson, Fox does not require special accommodations for his condition, although his medication will be timed to fit filming.

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