The Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), a study sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation, is recruiting people with known disease risk factors but no official Parkinson’s diagnosis, the foundation announced.
Newly diagnosed patients, and healthy adults — those without any known Parkinson’s risk factors, who would serve as a control group — are also needed.
PPMI (NCT04477785), launched in 2010, is an observational study, meaning participants are assessed over time to collect clinical and other data but no experimental treatment is given. It aims to better understand how Parkinson’s manifests and progresses, to identify biological markers of disease progression, and to speed the development of potential therapies.
The large, collaborative and international study joins researchers, clinicians, and patients — as well as pharmaceutical companies, research centers, and governmental agencies — at nearly 50 clinical sites in countries that include the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and the European Union.
A list of trial locations (including those soon to open), and contacts for each site is available here.
The study, which aims to enroll about 4,000 people in total, is now expanding to include “at-risk” individuals, ages 60 or older. These include people with:
- a first-degree family member (parent, child, or sibling) with Parkinson’s disease
- certain Parkinson’s-associated mutations (in LRRK2 and/or GBA genes)
- risk factors that include a loss of smell (hyposmia) or rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder. People with this disorder “act out” dreams, so that sleep is accompanied with mild to violent limb movement and talking.
“At-risk” individuals are thought to be more likely to develop Parkinson’s, although none of its defining motor symptoms are evident.
People in their late 50s can also apply, and men with identified risks are “especially needed,” the foundation states.
“PPMI is now enrolling the largest cohort ever assembled of these ‘at-risk,’ pre-diagnosis individuals,” its announcement reads. “Following these volunteers, in-depth, over the course of several years, from before onset of Parkinson’s-related changes through diagnosis and progression, is a scientific necessity: This science will open up new therapeutic avenues put into immediate service for the benefit of today’s patients.”
Researchers are looking to better understand changes taking place in the brain and other cells prior to disease onset in a large group of people, and those across countries and regions. A better understanding may also help scientists identify protective factors, those that keep some people from ever developing Parkinson’s, despite disease-associated mutations or exposure to environmental factors known to increase its risk.
More than 1,400 people are already enrolled, undergoing clinical exams and brain scans, and contributing biological samples in “pursuit of a cure,” the foundation reports.
Those interested in taking part are asked to fill out an eligibility survey, available here.
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