Our June 27 Webinar, a “Biomarkers Update” as part of our Hot Topics in Parkinson's Disease (PD) Research Seminar Series, featured Ken Marek, MD, president and senior scientist at the Institute of Neurodegenerative Disorders in New Haven, Connecticut, and Mark Frasier, PhD, MJFF Vice President, Research Programs. MJFF Contributing Editor Dave Iverson moderated.
Our speakers had a spirited conversation on the role of biomarkers in research and clinical care. If you didn't get a chance to log on, check it out on demand!
We asked Dr. Brit Mollenhauer, head of clinical research at Paracelsus Elena Klinik, in Kassel, Germany, and a Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) investigator, to answer questions submitted by Webinar attendees.
I had a DaTscan more than six years ago and would like to know if a second DaTscan would give me a measure of the disease's progression.
Some studies indicate that you can show the progression of neurodegeneration using DaTscan, but usually the clinical symptoms would show the same. Usually a DaTscan is only repeated (other than in studies) if after some years the diagnosis is questionable because there has been no clinical progression.
What do you think about the theory that biomarkers are probably not predicting PD, but rather are indicators of the beginning of the disease? PD seems to begin with non-motor symptoms long before the motor symptoms appear.
You are absolutely right; non-motor symptoms do appear much earlier. This is known for loss of smell (usually five years before motor symptoms) and REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (sometimes even 15-20 years before motor symptoms). Non-motor symptoms can be helpful as biomarkers to predict a motor disease, and there are several studies, such as PPMI, ongoing to characterize non-motor symptoms to learn more about their relationship with PD onset and progression.
You can also register now for our next Hot Topics Webinar, "Genetics and Parkinson's Disease," on Tuesday, September 24, from 12-1 p.m. ET. Iverson will lead a discussion with Brian Fiske, PhD, MJFF Vice President, Research Programs, and Andrew Singleton, PhD, senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging.