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Funded Studies

Metabolomic Analysis of Parkinsonian Disorders

Study Rationale:
This study is a search for biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease (PD) that would provide early diagnostic clues or a means to monitor disease progression (or both). The analysis involves measuring hundreds of chemical substances in biospecimens for the discovery of compounds or metabolic pathways linked to PD. Two other disorders sometimes confused with PD (progressive supranuclear palsy and multiple system atrophy) will also be studied for constituents in samples of blood and cerebrospinal fluid that might differentiate them from those in PD biospecimens.

We plan to confirm our earlier findings that a unique pattern of chemicals are detectable in PD specimens as indicators of the disease process.

Study Design:
This work will utilize two highly sensitive, state-of-the-art laboratory methods that can quantify minute amounts of chemical constituents found in blood and cerebrospinal fluid.  The results from the hundreds of such measurements will be analyzed by sophisticated statistical techniques. Our goal is to determine how PD can be distinguished from control specimens and from other Parkinsonian disorders.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease: 
Biomarkers of PD have the potential to identify persons at risk for developing clinical features of this disorder, possibly offering the chance for earlier intervention if neuroprotective treatments are developed. In addition, sensitive biomarkers for PD and its progression would be extremely valuable for clinical trials and other research in detecting beneficial effects of neuroprotective therapy.

Next Steps for Development:
Our laboratory findings to date indicate the possibility that a blood sample test could detect the presence of PD as well as monitor its progression over time. If we confirm these prior observation, we will continue toward that goal.


  • Peter A. LeWitt, MD, M.Med.Sc.

    West Bloomfield, MI United States

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