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Discovery of Microbiome Biomarkers for Parkinson's Disease

Study Rationale:
The gut microbiome -- a community of microorganisms living in the gastrointestinal tract -- influences the development of the nervous system, affects behavior and contributes to various disorders of the nervous system. Because non-genetic factors appear to play a role in Parkinson's disease (PD), in this project we will study the gut microbiome to discover a biomarker -- an objective measure of disease -- for identification of populations at risk of PD.

We propose sequencing the gut microbiome -- determining what genes the microorganisms living in the gut possess -- of people with and without PD. We hypothesize that this will reveal microbial patterns useful in identifying individuals and perhaps populations with Parkinson's. Our findings may help to understand disease causes and to design future clinical trials.

Study Design:
We will determine microbial genes in people newly diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and in healthy people. To accomplish that, we will use techniques called next generation shotgun sequencing and bioinformatics analysis. Data from this study will be compared with previously collected microbiome data to confirm the ability of the microbiome to accurately identify populations with Parkinson's.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson's disease:
Our long-term goal is to develop non-invasive and objective biomarker strategies to improve diagnosis and monitoring of symptoms. This study promises to deliver cost-effective, non-invasive and commercially feasible strategies for developing PD biomarkers.

Next Steps for Development:
If this study is successful, we will be able to identify a population with PD based on properties of these people's microbiomes. These properties will then be compared with symptoms and other disease-related findings from patient records to confirm a biological link between gut microorganisms and Parkinson's disease. This novel biomarker information can be used for a variety of applications including improved approaches to diagnosing Parkinson's and monitoring its symptoms.


  • Sarkis K. Mazmanian, PhD

    Pasadena, CA United States

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