Sanofi Supports PD GENEration Initiative to Increase Genetic Testing of Parkinson’s Patients

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by Marisa Wexler |

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Sanofi will provide $1 million in research funding over the next two years to support PD GENEration, a national initiative seeking to increase the availability of genetic testing and counseling for people with Parkinson’s disease living in the U.S.

“Genetic testing is critical for advancing understanding of the biology behind Parkinson’s disease and increasing patient access to clinical trials targeting specific genetic mutations, with the hope of slowing disease progression,” Erik Wallstroem, therapeutic area head of Neurology Development at Sanofi, said in a press release.

“The PD GENEration study is an exciting platform to facilitate this, and it’s already demonstrating early success,” Wallstroem said.

Mutations in certain genes, such as GBA, LRRK2, and SNCA, are known to either cause Parkinson’s directly, or increase one’s risk to develop the disease. Genetic testing can identify such mutations.

“With an estimated 10–15% of people with Parkinson’s disease having a genetic form of the disease, people may have risk genes even when they have no apparent family history,” Wallstroem said.

Knowing whether a person with Parkinson’s does or does not have a given mutation can have important ramifications for their care. For example, some clinical trials are open only to people with certain mutations, so knowing an individual’s genetic status is important to decide in which clinical trials they may be able to participate.

“PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson’s Disease” is an initiative in the U.S. that offers genetic testing for Parkinson’s-related genes, as well as genetic counseling at no cost, for people with the disease.

Genetic testing and counseling often are not covered by insurance, making them difficult to access for many people with Parkinson’s. Results from a pilot study of the program demonstrated the feasibility of providing widespread genetic testing and counseling to people with the disorder.

This initiative intends to enroll about 15,000 people. Individuals can perform the test in-person at specific locations, which can be viewed here, or take the test at home. Testing and counseling are available in both English and Spanish.

In addition to giving patients with Parkinson’s better access to genetic testing and counseling, the initiative also will gather data that may be important for better understanding the underlying biology of the disease.

PD GENEration is spearheaded by the Parkinson’s Foundation. It has received support from Biogen, and now it also is being supported by Sanofi.

“This collaboration with Sanofi will help us continue to improve Parkinson’s care by helping PD GENEration participants better manage their disease while supporting scientists to better understand Parkinson’s disease,” said John L. Lehr, president and CEO of the Parkinson’s Foundation.

“We are thrilled to work with Sanofi to empower the Parkinson’s disease community with more information about their diagnosis and potential treatment options,” Lehr said.

Additional information about PD GENEration is available at Parkinson.org/PDGENEration, or by calling the Parkinson’s Foundation’s free helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO.