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Funded Studies

International Study of Parkinson's-related Changes in Brain Pathways Using Imaging Technique

Study Rationale:
Because Parkinson's disease (PD) affects people around the world regardless of their ethnicity or place of residence, research to find a cure for Parkinson's is truly an international effort. We aim to support this effort by creating the largest international database of brain images from people with and without PD. We will search these images for variations in the brains of people living with the Parkinson's. This will help us discover the changes that PD patients from different countries share and identify factors that cause these.

We aim to determine whether changes in brain connections are similar in people with PD around the world. We also aim to identify common factors that cause these changes.

Study Design:
We will provide investigators software and an advanced set of tools to study the brain scans in our database. The scans were collected using an imaging technique known as diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI), which reveals disease-related changes in the brain structure. Our platform and tools will help researchers and clinicians from different countries analyze all scans in a similar manner. We will ask everyone the same set of questions with the goal of identifying where disruptions at different stages of disease might occur in the brains of people with PD. New, more accurate information obtained from these scans can link pathways to specific risk factors, such as genetics, and inform the development of targeted treatments to prevent or delay disease onset.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson's disease:
Clinicians often use MRI to diagnose a suspected neurological condition, but a standard MRI procedure usually cannot diagnose PD. We believe this modified procedure might solve this problem. In this study, we will identify PD-related changes in the brain visible on DW-MRI scans. These changes can be useful in diagnosing the disease and monitoring its progression.

Next Steps for Development:
If results confirm the presence of a common underlying factor for Parkinson's, clinicians could incorporate diffusion-weighted MRI scans to more accurately diagnose PD earlier and track disease progression in people living with PD.


  • Neda Jahanshad, PhD

    Marina del Rey, CA United States

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