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Feasibility of Screening for Parkinson's Genetic Risk Factors in People of Asian Ancestry

Study Rationale:
Mutations in the LRRK2 gene can cause Parkinson's disease (PD), and therapies against associated dysfunction in the LRRK2 protein are in clinical trials. A specific variant of the LRRK2 gene (G2385R) is found in almost one-tenth of Asian people with PD. Genetics is an important window to better understand disease -- even in those without these mutations -- and trials need volunteers to test new treatments. Therefore, it is important to find people with the LRRK2 G2385R risk variant.

To achieve our long term goal of studying people with PD who have this genetic risk variant, we are conducting a study to determine the feasibility of engaging PD patients of Asian descent in research, including genetic screening.

Study Design:
The goals for this study are: 1) To determine the feasibility of finding people of Asian ancestry who have PD, 2) To assess PD awareness and attitudes regarding medical research and genetic testing among people with PD of Asian descent, and 3) To develop a detailed plan for recruiting PD patients of Chinese, Japanese or Korean ancestry for participation in medical research, including genetic screening. This work will be carried out by building partnerships with the San Francisco Bay Area Asian community, including community leaders, health systems and media outlets.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson's Disease:
Involving people with the LRRK2 gene risk variant in medical research will help scientists to develop LRRK2-targeting drugs. Learnings from this population can be used to plan future trials that aim to slow or stop PD progression or even prevent the development of PD.

Next Steps for Development:
If we succeed in developing a plan for engaging people of Asian descent with PD in medical research, we will move to an active recruitment phase, enrolling people with and without PD of Asian ancestry to collect information on their attitudes and beliefs regarding PD, to collect information on clinical aspects of PD, and to collect genetic information for testing.


  • Caroline Tanner, MD, PhD

    San Francisco, CA United States

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