NIH launches online collaborative to find Parkinson's biomarkers

In the latest push to better predict, diagnose and monitor Parkinson's disease, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health, is launching a new online collaborative resource that will support data-sharing in an effort to find biomarkers for the disease.

The Parkinson's Disease Biomarkers Program is meant to bring together multiple stakeholders interested in research and discovery that will advance diagnostic and progression biomarkers for Parkinson's. According to NINDS, the collaborative will "support efforts to invent new technologies and analysis tools for biomarker discovery, to identify and validate biomarkers in patients, and to share biomarker data and resources across the Parkinson's community."

There is currently no validated Parkinson's disease biomarker, and that has been a major challenge for developing better treatments.

Biomarkers could be used to detect and monitor the disease much earlier--possibly even before symptoms appear. This could improve the success of existing treatments and help researchers test new ones in clinical trials, as well as help ensure that therapies are actually targeting the biological causes of the disease, not just alleviating symptoms.

In the first fiscal year of the project, the Parkinson's Disease Biomarkers Program has awarded 9 research teams across the U.S. with grants totaling $5 million.

As part of the program, NINDS is partnering with organizations like the Michael J. Fox Foundation to accelerate Parkinson's research.

- here's the NIH release