NIH pours $900K into Parkinson's biomarker research

NIH is looping Emory's Rollins School of Public Health into its Parkinson's Disease Biomarker Program, pledging $900,000 to a research team aiming to discover new ways of identifying the ailment.

The money will help a research group at the school's Center for Biomedical Imaging Statistics develop statistical tools that can identify multiple biomarkers by observing changes in brain function, said F. DuBois Bowman, the team's leader. The group will develop algorithms that can filter through millions of possible brain measurements to detect changes that could be signs of Parkinson's.

"Our primary goal is to achieve a better prognosis for patients by identifying neuro-degeneration earlier," Bowman said in a statement. "In doing this, we prompt the development of new treatments, accurately identify who is likely to progress to develop Parkinson's, and develop findings that can be used to set up future clinical trials. There are currently no proven biomarkers for this disease."

The Emory group's efforts are all part of the Parkinson's Disease Biomarker Program, an NIH-sponsored collaborative effort launched this year to unite researchers trying to better diagnose the opaque disease. The program aims to pair imaging-based biomarker research with a comprehensive clinical database, allowing investigators to pool data and avoid study duplication.

So far, NIH has recruited 9 research groups into the program, and it has granted about $5 million total to support their work.

- read the announcement