Oxford Parkinson’s Center Partners to Spot Key Progression Biomarkers

Tailored treatments and individual therapy response goal of Parkinson's research

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by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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The University of Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre is working with Metabolon to identify metabolic biomarkers of Parkinson’s risk and progression that could lead to tailored disease treatments and better patient care.

“Metabolon’s highly accurate data will enable the identification of metabolomic biomarkers crucial to understanding and better predicting Parkinson’s disease progression to help improve patient care and the proactive management of symptoms,” Rohan Hastie, PhD, Metabolon’s president and CEO, said in a company press release.

Launched in 2010, the Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre is following a group — collectively called the Oxford Discovery Cohort — that includes people with early idiopathic Parkinson’s (of unknown cause), people with REM sleep behavior disorder at risk of developing Parkinson’s, and healthy people serving as controls for comparison.

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Oxford Discovery Cohort data to aid in biomarker research

Cohort participants, at the time of their entry into this study, were 1,082 diagnosed patients, 104 people with REM sleep behavior disorder, 106 people with a family member with Parkinson’s, and 297 controls, according to its website.

Participants’ clinical and biological data, including profiling for biomarkers and genes, is collected over time, making this cohort one of the world’s better-characterized groups of Parkinson’s patients, according to the press release. The goal is to advance the understanding of Parkinson’s progression in different people.

Under the partnership, Metabolon will conduct metabolomics — a global analysis of all metabolites, small signaling molecules that arise during chemical reactions that occur within a cell — on blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples collected over time from cohort participants. The CSF is the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Outcomes of the analyses are expected to identify the metabolomic changes that occur over years of Parkinson’s progression.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre to support their mission to improve research and understanding of the biology of early Parkinson’s,” Hastie said.

Integrating the changes in metabolism with participants’ clinical and genetic data could provide researchers with a comprehensive view of Parkinson’s onset and progression.

“I am excited to be collaborating with Metabolon, who are global leaders in their field,” said Michele Hu, a professor of clinical neuroscience at the University of Oxford and principal investigator of the Oxford Discovery Cohort study. “Understanding the unique, real-time fingerprint of an individual’s biological system alongside individual clinical and digital measures captured longitudinally [with time] across the Oxford Discovery cohort is a powerful combination.”

Hu anticipates this work “will lead to tailored treatments to reverse deranged metabolic pathways in Parkinson’s, as well as biomarkers that capture each individual’s response to these therapies,” she added.

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