In an editorial recently published in Personalized Medicine, authors from The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) and J. William Langston, MD, chief scientific officer and founder of the Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center and founding member of the MJFF Scientific Advisory Board, outline a strategy to advance personalized medicine for Parkinson's disease (PD).
Watch a webinar on Parkinson's personalized medicine.
Parkinson's care is already dictated by one's own experience with the disease -- the symptoms one shows and how a patient responds to medication -- but learning more about what causes PD in different people may help scientists develop more targeted treatments that could prevent, slow or stop progression. With advances around key Parkinson's genetic targets -- alpha-synuclein, LRRK2, GBA/GCase† -- the field is poised for acceleration in this area, similar to the transformation seen in cancer treatment in recent years. However, hurdles to progress remain.
"Truly transforming PD treatment into a precision approach will require tackling key research and regulatory challenges, and the coordinated effort of the entire PD community," the authors write.
The editorial presents a roadmap for overcoming current challenges:
- Support a culture of access to de-identified study data and biosamples
- Create on-ramps to partner with study volunteers through technology, brain donation programs and study results reporting
- Pursue hypothesis-driven and novel discovery paths to build a clearer picture of Parkinson's disease
- Drive biomarker validation to capture the potential biological diversity underlying PD
- Blur the lines between clinical diagnosis to test therapies based on biological dysfunction rather than disease definition
"With our growing understanding of the varied paths to Parkinson's disease, we see potential routes to personalized medicine for our field," said lead author Todd Sherer, PhD, MJFF CEO. "Increased attention and collaboration in this area will mean significant advancement in the identification and testing of new treatments to prevent, slow or stop disease."
People with PD and their loved ones can contribute to Parkinson's personalized medicine by helping researchers learn more about the disease. Individuals of at-risk populations (Ashkenazi Jewish, Basque and North African Berber descent) with PD or a first-degree relative with PD may be eligible for free genetic screening and counseling through participation in the MJFF-sponsored landmark biomarker study the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative. Our online clinical study Fox Insight captures data through periodic surveys on the lived experience of disease, from people with PD and control volunteers.
Learn more about where we are with personalized medicine for Parkinson's and how you can play a role in a recent webinar on this topic.