People who do not have Parkinson’s disease (PD) may be surprised to learn that they can participate and have a role to play in PD research. In fact, control participants provide researchers with important information for comparison with people who have specific illnesses, like PD. Data and samples collected from people with Parkinson’s can only be analyzed and fully understood when compared to the same data and samples collected from people of similar ages and genders who do not have Parkinson’s. By comparing people with and without disease, researchers have a better chance of identifying differences between these two groups and these differences could ultimately lead to new knowledge that could accelerate the development of new and improved therapies for Parkinson’s disease.
An example of a study that is actively recruiting controls is the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI); by comparing data collected from both PD and control subjects, researchers are hoping to identify traits specific to Parkinson’s disease that that can go beyond symptomatic relief to slow or stop the progression of Parkinson's disease. While recruiting control participants is critical to the success of a trial like PPMI, it is often much harder than recruiting people with a disease, whose interest and motivation to be part of a study of their disease may be naturally high.
If you do not have Parkinson’s disease, but know someone who does or you want to raise a hand and help in finding new treatments, there is a role you can play in clinical research. Register for Fox Trial Finder to identify trials seeking control subjects and become part of the search for new PD treatments.