The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) announced that the first award under its Linked Efforts to Accelerate Parkinson’s Solutions (LEAPS) program will aim to create the first whole genome study, or genetic map, of Parkinson’s disease within one year. The collaboration brings together Mayo Clinic’s patient database and Perlegen Sciences’ high-density array genotyping technology.
Project funding will total approximately $2.8 million, assuming all milestones are met. Funding was made possible by a lead grant from prominent Wisconsin businessman and philanthropist George Prescott and his family, with matching funds provided by members of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.
“We are excited to serve as a catalyst for the first genetic map of Parkinson’s disease,” said Deborah W. Brooks, executive director of the Foundation. “By bringing together the extensive patient experience of Mayo Clinic and the leading genotyping technology of Perlegen, we hope to significantly accelerate the field by quickly providing a comprehensive source of information to the community. What’s more, this research also has a high potential for translation: it could identify new targets for drug therapies, or possibly discover a biomarker, or diagnostic test.”
The team, led by coordinating investigator David R.Cox, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer of Perlegen, and Demetrius Maraganore, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, will compare DNA from 1,000 individuals: 500 sibling pairs—one of whom has Parkinson’s disease and one of whom does not. The team will study more than 200,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), or unique genetic markers, that are spread evenly across the human genome, to determine those which vary most between the Parkinson’s and non-Parkinson’s samples. After they are identified, these markers will be further analyzed in an additional population consisting of 300 people with Parkinson’s and 300 unrelated people as controls. In all, this two-tiered study will examine DNA from 1600 individuals with the goal of identifying all the major Parkinson’s disease susceptibility genes as well as risk factor profiles associated with a high risk for the disease. Outcomes will be publicly shared by November 2005.
Perlegen is currently collaborating with Pfizer Inc. to discover genetic markers for metabolic syndrome and test drug response for major depression, with AstraZeneca to discover gene variants that predispose patients to heart attack, and with Lilly and Bristol Myers Squibb, among others, to use whole genome studies to determine drug response. Parkinson’s disease was not a focus prior to this collaboration, and this project would not have occurred without funding from The Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Based in Mountain View, California, Perlegen was formed in late 2000 as a spin-off from Affymetrix, Inc. (Nasdaq: AFFIX). For more information about the company and its technologies, visit www.perlegen.com.