Recruiting for New Genetics Arm of the Parkinsonís Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI)
Published Tuesday, April 8, 2014 8:00 am
by Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center

 Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center Recruiting for  
New Genetics Arm of the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI)
Michael J. Fox Foundation Sponsored Study Seeks Individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish Background

For Immediate Release

SUNNYVALE, CA—The Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center will study individuals with LRRK2 and SNCA (alpha-synuclein) genetic mutations as one of 32 clinical sites of the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), a large-scale biomarker study sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Previous research has shown that these mutations are associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD), and account for a greater number of PD cases among certain ethnic populations and families, notably the LRRK2 mutation in those of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish, Basque, and North African Berber descent. The insight researchers glean from these research volunteers will fortify current efforts to develop a disease-modifying therapy, something that currently eludes the field.

“As a leader in LRRK2 research and genetic discovery, we look forward to our continued participation as a clinical site of PPMI. Studying individuals with genetic mutations associated with Parkinson’s can accelerate our research toward a PD biomarker and more effective treatments,” said J. William Langston, MD, Chief Scientific Officer at the Parkinson’s Institute. “Although known genetic mutations currently account for Parkinson’s in only five to 10 percent of all people living with the disease, studying this population can provide invaluable information about the intricacies of the disease for all who are affected.”

PPMI is studying clinical and imaging data and biological samples of people with a genetic mutation to identify biomarkers and speed clinical trials. PPMI will enroll 250 people with Parkinson’s who  carry the LRRK2 mutation and 250 people who are LRRK2 carriers but do not have Parkinson’s disease. Since the SNCA mutation is rarer, the study is recruiting 50 people with both Parkinson’s and the mutation and 50 people with the SNCA mutation but without PD. These participants will be followed for five years.

Interested individuals can contact Linda Rees, Parkinson’s Institute PPMI Site Coordinator, at (408) 542-5664. PPMI is particularly interested in testing individuals of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish descent with Parkinson’s or with a relative with the disease. Study sites will recruit people with the rarer SNCA mutation through familial connections.

Biomarkers—such as cholesterol level for heart disease—are substances, processes, or characteristics of the body that communicate disease risk, onset, and/or progression. They aid in diagnosis and disease management and help researchers stratify for clinical trials and test new drugs quicker by measuring biological changes rather than waiting for clinical improvement. There are no validated biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease, a reality researchers are hoping to change with PPMI.

Launched in 2010, PPMI is a longitudinal clinical study that collects standardized clinical, imaging, and biologic data. Now taking place at 32 clinical sites around the world, the study completed initial enrollment of 423 recently diagnosed Parkinson’s patients and 196 controls in April 2013. That month PPMI began recruiting individuals with the known Parkinson’s risk factors of smell loss and REM sleep behavior disorder.

“In the fourth 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. “The exceptional investigators at sites around the world, such as at the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center, have created the infrastructure that allows us to make such strides, by working together.”  

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

Enrollment Contact:
Linda Rees
(408) 542-5664

About the Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center

Two and a half decades ago, a dedicated group of Parkinson’s disease experts set out to create a better way to research and provide care for Parkinson’s disease. Patients would become partners in developing their care plans, improving their quality of life, and discovering new strategies to confront and manage their disease. Compassionate care would work hand in hand with cutting-edge research to seek answers, develop new therapies and treatments, and ultimately work toward a cure. The result was the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center — America’s only independent non-profit organization combining world-class care, clinical research, laboratory research, and clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease under one roof.

Connect with the Parkinson’s Institute and learn more:
(800) 655-2273 toll free
(408) 734-2800 main

About The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

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 $400 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 The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Research on Facebook, Twitter, Web and LinkedIn


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