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Ask the MD: Parkinson's Diagnosis and Biomarkers

In this video, I review how physicians diagnose Parkinson’s disease (PD) and how The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) and others are collaborating to find a biomarker — an objective measure of disease (such as cholesterol level for heart disease) — for diagnosis. Because no Parkinson’s biomarker has been identified, doctors rely on a person’s medical history and physical examination to diagnose PD. This is part of the reason it’s important to be evaluated by a movement disorder specialist, a neurologist with extra training in Parkinson’s.

In order to identify a biomarker, MJFF launched the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) in 2010. In this observational study, hundreds of volunteers both with and without PD are contributing data (through physical examinations, laboratory testing and brain imaging) that researchers are analyzing in search of a biomarker.

Not only would a Parkinson’s biomarker improve diagnosis, such a tool would also speed the development of new therapies by allowing researchers to more quickly test the impact of treatments on the disease process.

Get answers to frequently asked questions about the diagnosis of PD.

Learn more about participating in the PPMI study.

Register with Fox Trial Finder to find studies working to learn more about PD and to test new therapies.

Ask the MD has been made possible through the leadership of members of our Parkinson's Disease Education Consortium in conjunction with The Albert B. Glickman Parkinson's Disease Education Program. These partners' support allows us to furnish high-quality educational content to the Parkinson's community while maintaining our commitment to allocate donor dollars to high-impact research. Editorial control of all Michael J. Fox Foundation-published content rests solely with the Foundation.


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