Platform launched for sharing brain samples in Parkinson’s research

ASAP CRN Cloud contains samples from 156 donors, due to grow to 629 donors

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by Andrea Lobo |

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A researcher shines a light on a part of a brain projected onto a wall, while another takes notes.

The Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s (ASAP) initiative has launched a data-sharing platform that will make data on human brain samples available to researchers around the world, furthering research into Parkinson’s disease.

The ASAP CRN Cloud includes several brain sequencing collections obtained from samples from four ASAP Collaborative Research Network (CRN) teams, an international multi-institutional network of scientists collaborating to address basic science questions in Parkinson’s, and 156 donors. The platform is expected to grow to 629 donors contributing to the final datasets.

By combining data into a single platform, researchers will be able to share, access, and work with other experts, a development that will contribute to new discoveries and insights into the process of nerve cell degeneration in Parkinson’s, and help accelerate clinical research.

“Human postmortem-derived brain samples and data are a precious resource that are highly limited for scientific research communities studying neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease,” Sonya Dumanis, PhD, deputy director at ASAP, said in a press release.

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Launching the collections

The launch collection features single-cell transcriptomics and proteomics data, enabling researchers to study individual cells independently. This is particularly significant in the context of brain research and neurodegenerative diseases, as it allows for a deeper understanding of the complex cellular interactions in the brain. Transcriptomics is the comprehensive study of gene expression, focusing on analyzing messenger RNA molecules, which act as intermediaries, translating genetic information encoded within DNA into functional proteins. Proteomics involves analyzing the complete set of proteins within a cell or tissue. Gene expression is the process by which genetic information within DNA is converted into functional products, such as proteins.

“ASAP’s ultimate goal is to accelerate discoveries for Parkinson’s disease research. Given the number of our grantees working on omics-related research, we set out to establish the CRN Cloud, a centralized platform where all researchers can share, access, and work directly with our CRN teams. We see it as foundational to democratizing data, catalyzing the next frontier for Parkinson’s research,” Dumanis said in an email to Parkinson’s News Today.

The datasets encompass data from various stages of Parkinson’s disease, along with data from healthy people and were developed with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF), together with technical partners that contribute to data security, sharing, and analysis.

“ASAP’s CRN Cloud opens up Parkinson’s disease research to new people with new ideas and the capability to answer key open questions. The tool offsets the risk for those that are interested in entering this exciting field of research by making it easy for them to see how much data there is available and removing the need to do the initial heavy lifting; they can just focus on innovative science,” Mina Ryten, MD, PhD, University of Cambridge, ASAP Collaborative Research Network Investigator, said in an email to Parkinson’s News Today.

Researchers interested in accessing the data may submit a data use application within the platform, where they provide their role, institution, and planned use of the data, and agree with the terms for using it. Once that’s granted, researchers will have access to all datasets.