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Biomarker Discovery in Parkinson’s Disease

The primary goal of our studies is to expand our ongoing biomarker discovery program in order to establish biological markers of Parkinson's disease (PD). The imperative to develop effective therapies or preventions for PD increases with the ever-growing number of older adults. Diagnosis of PD remains in the hands of clinicians; there is no current test or procedure that is diagnostic. Not surprisingly, PD remains under diagnosed and under treated. Moreover, the clinical symptoms required for diagnosis appear to develop only after substantial dopaminergic neuron loss has occurred in vulnerable brain regions which results after years or even decades of the underlying disease process. Current therapies are initiated only after diagnosis; their modest benefit, in part, may be explained by the fact that some irreversible brain damage already has occurred by the time the clinical disease is recognized. The development of valid and reliable biomarkers for PD not only will aid clinicians in recognizing the disease in its earliest Symptoms & Side Effects stages, but also may help identify the illness before motor â€" impairment or other symptoms appear. The detection of preclinical PD will be especially important should effective disease-modifying therapies be developed to allow optimal intervention (i.e., before substantial neurodegeneration has occurred). Thus our studies will provide a basis for the design of a much-needed clinical diagnostic test for PD, and possibly provide novel endpoints measures for PD clinical trials with neuroprotective agents.


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