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MJFF and The Kinetics Foundation Collaborate on Search for Parkinson's Biomarker

NEW YORK The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research today announced that it is partnering with The Kinetics Foundation to measure the impact of an innovative computer-based device, called the Objective Parkinson’s Disease Measurement System (OPDM), and how it might help to better measure specific motor characteristics of Parkinson’s disease (PD).

The joint venture is being added to MJFF’s Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), a landmark five-year clinical study aiming to identify biomarkers of PD progression, one of MJFF’s highest priorities. A biomarker is a measurable physical trait that is associated with the risk or presence of a disease, or that changes over time in a way that can be linked to the progression of a disease. This type of marker is critically needed for the success of clinical trials, particularly those searching for potential disease-modifying treatments.

“The primary goal of PPMI is to identify biomarkers that track Parkinson’s disease progression,” said Ken Marek, MD, PPMI’s principal investigator, and the president and senior scientist at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders in New Haven, Connecticut. “Currently, PPMI study subjects are undergoing tests focused on clinical symptoms, brain imaging and biological samples. The OPDM device will now provide an additional strategy to measure motor function and may be a simple and efficient way to measure PD progression that can be used at home rather than in the clinic.”

Today, the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale is considered the gold standard for measuring PD progression. But because it relies on subjective clinical opinion, it is not truly quantitative. The OPDM device tests dexterity through finger-tapping and peg transfer exercises that gauge speed and reaction time. By doing so, it is designed to objectively and more accurately measure PD severity by detecting changes in motor function. This could shorten the time needed to perform assessments in clinical trials, reducing costs.

“Throughout the course of our relationship with The Kinetics Foundation, we have worked together to bring innovative research to the fore, collaborating on diverse projects including neurotrophic therapies and improving brain drug delivery in Parkinson’s,” said Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO, MJFF. “This is the latest project in a partnership that we hope will speed progress toward better treatments for PD.”

"MJFF has been a leading force in the search for new PD treatments and cures, their PPMI project may be their most important effort to date,” said Ken Kubota, program director of the Kinetics Foundation. “Finding a biomarker for PD might allow for earlier and more accurate diagnosis, as well as measurement of disease progression and treatment efficacy. We are excited to be part of this valuable work."

This study will be offered at three PPMI sites: the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon. PPMI is recruiting newly diagnosed people with Parkinson’s as well as controls at 21 study sites throughout the United States and Europe. To find out more about how you can help, visit

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