Large study could find elusive Parkinson's biomarkers

The San Diego Union-Tribune tells us about a large, $40 million, five-year study to find elusive biomarkers for Parkinson's disease. The Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative is sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation and will enroll 400 newly diagnosed Parkinson's patients and 200 healthy controls at 18 sites across the country, the paper reports. Experts are hoping this huge study will finally put them on a road to a cure, which has been slowed because of lack of biomakers.

The University of California San Diego School of Medicine is participating in the study with 20 Parkinson's patients and 10 controls. The Union-Tribune ran a Q&A interview with Douglas Galasko, a UCSD professor, to talk about the Parkinson's biomarker search. Galasko said that an experienced neurologist can accurately diagnose Parkinson's in most patients. Where a biomarker would come in handy is for those who have unusual, mile or ambiguous findings.

"Only a few drugs have been studied in efforts to slow down progression," Galasko told the Union-Tribune. "For these types of drugs, biomarkers can provide a valuable readout of whether the drug is influencing the brain in a beneficial way--for example by measuring biomarkers of brain structure or chemistry."

An ideal biomarker, he said, would be one that could detect changes early in the course of the disease and measure changes over time.

- read the whole story and interview at SignOn San Diego