NEW YORK, NY— The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research today announced new interactive features on PD Online Research (www.pdonlineresearch.org), a Web-based community of Parkinson’s scientists, clinicians, health care providers, drug developers and funders who exchange ideas and information online in an effort to speed research progress. Among the new features are resources aimed at helping scientists identify and access critical PD research tools, such as laboratory models of the disease, while also promoting discussion on best practices.
Launched one year ago PD Online is a virtual workspace for technical discussion and problem-solving in Parkinson’s science. The site, conceptualized and built by MJFF in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital and the Initiative in Innovative Computing at Harvard University, now has more than 2,000 professional members from academic, government, investment and biotech/pharmaceutical industry sectors.
PD Online has been the site for active discussion on a number of hot topics in PD research. For example, leading PD experts participated in a real time debate about the significance of the results of the ADAGIO trial on rasagiline and its potential impact on treatment decisions. The online discussion even received notice from the FDA which requested transcripts of the debate from MJFF.
Another hot topic on PD Online focused on critical research tools, including those for the PD-implicated gene, LRRK2. When several LRRK2 antibodies, developed with support from MJFF, were made freely available through PD Online to the entire PD research community for experimental use, the Foundation received almost 90 requests in the first week. Researchers are now undertaking large-scale testing of the antibodies and providing feedback on their performance through an open discussion on PD Online. This novel community validation mechanism will help MJFF identify the best-performing antibodies to be distributed to the research community going forward.
Given the success of the online community validation approach, PD Online has launched a new database of pre-clinical models of PD, including those funded by MJFF. Members of the PD research community can submit information about any pre-clinical models that they have developed for inclusion in the database. This will help researchers identify and access available models while also allowing the PD Online community to discuss best practices for the different types of models that are used in Parkinson’s research. With the recent launch of MJFF’s clinical trial to identify and develop biomarkers of PD, called the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, plans are underway to develop another database of potential biomarkers on PD Online.
Promoting online scientific discussion is not without its challenges. To address some of the barriers to open, online discourse, PD Online has launched new features to improve the usability of the site and increase engagement in scientific discussions around news, published papers, funding opportunities, research tools and more. Members can easily start a new discussion on any PD topic of interest, follow discussion threads and post replies to conversations throughout the site. Site visitors can also respond to a short user survey to help with future enhancements.
For more detailed information on the newly launched PD Online features, visit pdonlineresearch.org.