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April 11, 2013

Neurological Researchers Working to Discover New Biomarkers for Parkinsonís disease

(CHICAGO) – Rush University Medical Center has been named one of only five clinical sites in the U.S. to lead a landmark, two-year, multi-site study exclusively focused on discovering new biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease.     

The discovery of a biomarker is critical to the development of new and improved treatments for Parkinson’s disease, particularly treatments that could slow or stop the progression of the disease, which is something currently not available,” said Dr. Jennifer G. Goldman, neurologist in the Parkinson’s disease and Movement Disorders Center at Rush.  Goldman is also an associate professor in the department of neurological sciences at Rush.

This study, called BioFIND, aims to identify new biomarker candidates, which are substances or characteristics found in people’s bodies that are associated with the presence of disease or changes over time in a way that can be linked back to the progression of disease. 

The BioFIND study will complement the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), another observational clinical study to comprehensively evaluate a cohort of recently diagnosed PD patients and healthy subjects using advanced imaging, biologic sampling and clinical and behavioral assessments to identify biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease progression.

“The data we collect from the BioFIND study along with the data from PPMI will produce the most comprehensive and long-ranging dataset available for biomarker discovery work throughout the Parkinson’s disease community,” said Goldman.

BioFIND is collecting clinical data and biospecimens, including blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), in a population of 120 well-defined, moderately advanced Parkinson’s disease subjects and 120 healthy control subjects. This will be the first study to validate biomarkers in people with moderate, typical presentations of Parkinson’s disease.

Data and samples acquired from study participants will enable the development of a comprehensive Parkinson's database and biorepository that will be available to the scientific community to conduct research on novel PD biomarkers.

Researchers are looking for male and female study volunteers who are between the ages of 55 and 85 years of age and have had Parkinson’s disease for a duration of 5-15 years.  They are also looking for control volunteers, ages 55-85, who do not have Parkinson’s disease or a first-degree blood relative with Parkinson’s disease.

Each participant will receive clinical assessments and will be required to provide a blood and cerebrospinal fluid sample.

“Biomarker studies including blood and cerebrospinal fluid provide researchers with the critical tools that can lead to great breakthroughs in Parkinson’s disease research, such as in predicting, diagnosing, and monitoring the disease and determining if a treatment is having an impact on the disease,” said Goldman.

Parkinson’s disease is a devastating disease that affects the central nervous system in an estimated one million people.

The BioFIND study is sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and funded in part by The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

“Finding such biomarkers would allow scientists to predict, diagnose and monitor the disease, and determine which medications might work and which won't,” said Mark Frasier, PhD, vice president of research programs at Michael J. Fox Foundation.” Since its inception, the foundation has invested $65 million in the pursuit of Parkinson’s biomarkers.”

“Through BioFIND, NINDS and the Fox Foundation are leveraging our resources to tackle a really important challenge in Parkinson’s disease research,” said Story Landis, PhD, director of NINDS.

“With this study, we could potential identify a set of reliable biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease,” said Goldman.  “This would greatly enhance our ability to develop new therapies and evaluate them in clinical trials.”

For more information about the study at Rush, please contact Jean A. Jaglin, Rush study coordinator at 312-562-2900.



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