Parkinsonís Institute to Investigate Prodromal Factors for Parkinsonís via PPMI
Published Thursday, October 3, 2013
by The Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center

Media Contact: Chelsea E.M. Kasai
(408) 542-5606

Enrollment Contact: Linda Rees
(408) 542-5664


Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center to Investigate Prodromal Factors for Parkinson’s Disease via Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI)

Michael J. Fox Foundation sponsored study seeks people in Sunnyvale, California area without Parkinson’s disease to participate in biomarker study

SUNNYVALE, CA, OCTOBER 3, 2013—The Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center announced that it will participate as one of 23 official clinical sites of the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative’s new arm to study at-risk populations for Parkinson’s disease. The $55-million international observational clinical study was launched in 2010 to define one or more biomarkers of Parkinson’s, and now seeks to better understand prodromal features of the disease. Prodromal features are symptoms that occur before Parkinson’s disease develops. The Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center in collaboration with El Camino Hospital has been a part of PPMI for three years and began enrollment for the new, pre-motor arm of the study in spring 2013.

The prodromal arm of PPMI will enroll participants who do not have Parkinson’s disease, but who do have one of two features that can precede Parkinson’s in some people: a reduced sense of smell (hyposmia); or rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD); and will also enroll people with a mutation in the LRRK2 gene (the single greatest genetic contributor to Parkinson’s disease known to date). Studying people with these features could not only enable earlier detection of the disease, but open new avenues in the quest for therapies that could slow or stop disease progression.

“Understanding prodromal Parkinson’s disease could help to identify therapies that may prevent the onset of motor symptoms in future generations of Parkinson’s patients,” said Dr. Caroline M. Tanner, Director of Clinical Research and Movement Disorders Specialist, at the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center. “The Parkinson’s Institute is proud to participate in this innovative research and will look to the local community for volunteers for the hyposmia, RBD, and LRRK2 cohorts.”

Local residents can easily get involved in this research by completing a brief survey about their sense of smell. Ten thousand people over the age of 60 who do not have Parkinson’s disease are needed to take the survey. Most respondents will be mailed a scratch-and-sniff smell test and brief questionnaire to be completed at home. Some individuals may also be asked to undergo more extensive testing.

“In the third year of PPMI, it is evident that a large-scale biomarker study is not only possible in Parkinson’s disease, but is already yielding scientific insights that could help transform the field of Parkinson’s research,” said Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. “None of this progress would be possible without the willing volunteers who donate their time and energy to the pursuit of a cure.”

About the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center
The Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center is the country’s only independent non-profit organization that brings together comprehensive care, basic research, and clinical research for Parkinson’s disease. Founded in 1988, the Institute has used this powerful and entrepreneurial model to empower people living with Parkinson’s and their loved ones to better manage their disease, improve their quality of life, and impact groundbreaking research that is changing the landscape of Parkinson’s science and medicine.

Learn more and stay connected with the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center:

About The Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI)
The Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) is a $55-million international clinical study sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) and funded by a consortium of 13 industry partners in conjunction with MJFF. Launched in 2010, PPMI aims to find reliable and consistent biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease (PD) progression. The study is testing today’s most promising biomarker candidates through neuroimaging, the collection of blood, urine, and spinal fluid, and clinical and behavioral tests. Valid measures could allow scientists to predict, objectively diagnose, and monitor diseases in both Parkinson’s disease patients and populations at-risk to developing Parkinson’s. In April 2013, PPMI completed the recruitment of 400 newly diagnosed PD patients and 200 control subjects, and announced the addition of a new arm to investigate potential risk factors of the disease. Using the same infrastructure and protocols, the pre-motor arm of PPMI is evaluating three at-risk cohorts: individuals with decreased sense of smell (hyposmia), people diagnosed with rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD), and those with a LRRK2 genetic mutation (the single greatest genetic contributor to PD known to date).

For information about enrolling in PPMI, please contact Parkinson’s Institute site coordinator Linda Rees at (408) 542-5664.

Researchers interested in applying for access to PPMI data and biospecimens should visit

About The Michael J. Fox Foundation
As the world’s largest private funder of Parkinson’s research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson’s disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today. The Foundation pursues its goals through an aggressively funded, highly targeted research program coupled with active global engagement of scientists, Parkinson’s patients, business leaders, clinical trial participants, donors, and volunteers. In addition to funding more than $325 million in research to date, the Foundation has fundamentally altered the trajectory of progress toward a cure. Operating at the hub of worldwide Parkinson’s research, the Foundation forges groundbreaking collaborations with industry leaders, academic scientists, and government research funders; increases the flow of participants into Parkinson’s disease clinical trials with its online tool, Fox Trial Finder; promotes Parkinson’s awareness through high-profile advocacy, events, and outreach; and coordinates the grassroots involvement of thousands of Team Fox members around the world. For more information, visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Web, and LinkedIn.

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