The QE3 trial is a large multicenter clinical trial designed to determine whether the nutritional supplement coenzyme Q10, which traps a potentially dangerous type of chemical in the brain called free radicals, will slow the progression of PD. The ancillary study involves obtaining blood samples from a subset of patients participating in the trial and storing them for future laboratory testing of possible biomarkers. Biomarkers are tests that might tell us important aspects about a disease like PD, such as whether or not an experimental treatment like coenzyme Q10 is actually changing the chemical environment in the brain and whether or not it is truly influencing the health of brain cells.
A random sample of patients taking part in the QE3 trial (along with some normal people) will be asked to volunteer for blood sampling at the start of the trial and later after they have been on the experimental treatment for six months. The samples will be processed and stored for future laboratory testing. MJFF and the Parkinson’s Alliance have provided financial support to obtain, process and store the samples. We are hopeful that certain patterns of change in gene expression or metabolism will serve as useful biomarkers for PD.
Relevance to Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:
A critical problem in PD research so far is the fact that there are no known accurate biomarkers for the PD process in the brain. This makes it very difficult to evaluate experimental treatments which might slow the worsening of PD. The development of a biomarker that reflects the progression of PD in the brain is absolutely essential for accelerating research to identify new treatments. There is reason to believe that certain tests in the blood might indeed accurately reflect what is occurring in the brain in PD.
We expect to have processed blood specimens from 150 QE3 subjects and 50 normal controls that are stored and available to a variety of research laboratories for use in developing accurate biomarkers for PD.