University of California, San Diego School of Medicine will be one of 23 official clinical sites of the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative's (PPMI) new arm to study at-risk populations for Parkinson's disease (PD). The $55 million landmark observational clinical study launched in 2010 to define one or more biomarkers of PD and now seeks to better understand potential risk factors of the disease. The university has been a part of PPMI for three years and currently is enrolling for the new, pre-motor arm of the study.
The pre-motor arm of PPMI will enroll participants who do not have Parkinson's disease and are living with one of three potential risk factors for PD: a reduced sense of smell (hyposmia), rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) or a mutation in the LRRK2 gene (the single greatest genetic contributor to PD known to date).
"Understanding risk factors for Parkinson's disease could help to identify therapies that may prevent the onset of motor symptoms in future generations of PD patients," said Douglas Galasko, M.D., the principal investigator for the study at the UCSD School of Medicine.
"In the third year of PPMI, it is evident that a large-scale biomarker study is not only possible in Parkinson's disease, but is already yielding scientific insights that could help transform the field of Parkinson's research," said Todd Sherer, Ph.D., chief executive officer of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. "None of this progress would be possible without the willing volunteers who donate their time and energy to the pursuit of a cure."