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Funded Studies

Studying Lipids in the Blood as Indicators of Pre-clinical and Early Parkinson’s Disease

Study Rationale:
There is a need for biomarkers -- disease measures -- that indicate and can help diagnose early-stage Parkinson’s disease (PD). Identification of PD during this stage, in the absence of symptoms, would enable the earliest possible treatment with disease-modifying drugs. In this study, we plan to take advantage of recent technological advances in the analysis of fatty substances called lipids to determine whether changes in lipid production and breakdown translate into changes in the lipid composition of the blood in people with Parkinson’s or who are at risk of developing the disease.

We propose that changes in lipid composition can be detected in the blood of people with or at risk of PD.

Study Design:
We will analyze blood samples of 210 participants of the Framingham Heart Study cohort who have since been diagnosed with PD. These samples have been collected over decades, before and after the PD diagnosis. We will also use samples from an independent, multicenter cohort collected at the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE). These samples were collected at a single time point rather than over a period of time.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:
The overall goal of this study is to identify changes in blood lipids to improve the diagnostic accuracy. Accurate diagnosis of earliest possible disease stages will, in turn, enable clinical trials of disease-modifying treatments. Information about disease-associated changes in lipid network may also lead to detection of novel therapeutic targets in Parkinson’s disease.

Next Steps for Development:
If this study is successful, we will extend our future studies to larger cohorts and other neurological diseases.


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