In this video, I review how physicians diagnose Parkinson’s disease (PD) and how The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) and others are collaborating to find a biomarker — an objective measure of disease (such as cholesterol level for heart disease) — for diagnosis. Because no Parkinson’s biomarker has been identified, doctors rely on a person’s medical history and physical examination to diagnose PD. This is part of the reason it’s important to be evaluated by a movement disorder specialist, a neurologist with extra training in Parkinson’s.
In order to identify a biomarker, MJFF launched the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) in 2010. In this observational study, hundreds of volunteers both with and without PD are contributing data (through physical examinations, laboratory testing and brain imaging) that researchers are analyzing in search of a biomarker.
Not only would a Parkinson’s biomarker improve diagnosis, such a tool would also speed the development of new therapies by allowing researchers to more quickly test the impact of treatments on the disease process.
The “Ask the MD” series is supported by Acorda Therapeutics. While our generous sponsors make the “Ask the MD” program possible, their support does not influence MJFF’s content or perspective.