Michael J. Fox Foundation Launches Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative

The Michael J. Fox Foundation has announced the launch of the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative, an observational clinical study designed to use a combination of advanced imaging, biologics sampling, and behavioral assessments to identify biomarkers of Parkinson's disease progression.

Expected to cost approximately $40 million over five years, the study will be made possible by a consortium of partners currently being assembled. The initiative will be carried out at nineteen clinical sites, fifteen in the United States and four in Europe, and will include four hundred newly diagnosed patients who have yet to take PD medications and two hundred healthy age-matched controls.

Enrollment is expected to begin during the spring and continue for approximately two years. Once enrolled, participants will undergo four patient visits during their first year, with visits twice a year thereafter. Each visit will include a battery of different tests, including motor, neuropsychiatric, and cognitive examinations; brain imaging with DatSCAN and MRI; and blood, CSF, urine, and DNA sampling.

"There is no doubt that finding a biomarker is critical to the development of next-generation therapies, and that the lack of this tool is among the most important issues facing the PD research field," said MJFF CEO Katie Hood. "MJFF has funded biomarker discovery efforts for years. Now we are poised for a concerted, unified effort that will take these discoveries to the next level."

"MJFF Launches Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative." Michael J. Fox Foundation Press Release 04/21/2010.