The Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) is The Michael J. Fox Foundation's flagship biomarkers clinical study. Hadassah Magazine's June/July 2014 issue featured PPMI's focus on genetics.
In February 2014, PPMI launched a new arm of the study to investigate genetic traits associated with the onset and progression of Parkinson's disease (PD). The LRRK2 genetic mutation, for example, is being studied in PPMI and is the greatest known genetic contributor to PD. It also has a higher prevelance within the Ashkenazi Jewish population than in other ethnic groups.
Hadassah Magazine writes:
Researchers are looking for biomarkers – substances, processes or characteristics of the body that signal risk, onset or progression of the disease – that can then aid in diagnosis and management as well as in developing new drugs. There are currently no biomarkers for Parkinson's.
"If we can prevent Parkinson's or diagnose it earlier, it would help so many people," says Judy Wattenberg of Boca Raton, FL, a participant in [PPMI]. Wattenberg, whose mother died of the disease and who watched herfather struggle with his role as caregiver, tested positive for a mutation of the LRRK2 gene...though that does not mean that she will develop the disease.
Recruitment for participants in PPMI is ongoing at 32 clinical sites around the world – 20 of which are in the US. Learn more about the study and the LRRK2 mutation by visiting michaeljfox.org/ppmi/genetics.