PARKINSON’S UPDATE – PART 3
THE PARKINSON’S PROGRESSION
MARKERS INITIATIVE (PPMI)
Actor Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s Disease in his 20s and at that time he realized there was minimal research and limited fundraising to promote new research for diagnosis and treatment options. Michael founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000.
The Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) is a groundbreaking clinical study launched in 2010 by the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Its goal is to identify biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease and to improve the understanding of how the disease progresses.
The expansion of PPMI will enable researchers to study more people with Parkinson’s disease, including those who have not yet been diagnosed, and to collect more comprehensive data on disease progression. This will help researchers develop better treatments and ultimately, a cure for Parkinson’s disease.
PPMI has already made significant contributions to Parkinson’s research, such as identifying a genetic mutation associated with a rare form of the disease and identifying a protein in the brain that could serve as a biomarker for Parkinson’s disease. The expansion of this study will only further accelerate progress in understanding and treating this debilitating disease.
Overall, this is very positive news for the Parkinson’s disease community and a great step forward in the fight against Parkinson’s disease.
If patients can be diagnosed from the very start, they can be given medication, have a better quality of life and progressive symptoms would likely be less troublesome.
Parkinson’s is often under-diagnosed and often misdiagnosed as it involves many physical, psychological, and socioemotional symptoms that can overlap with other conditions such as multiple system atrophy (MSA) and essential tremor.
In a recent UK survey of more than 2,000 people with Parkinson’s, more than 26% reported they were misdiagnosed with a different condition before receiving the correct Parkinson’s diagnosis.
Exciting new findings from the Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre (OPDC) have been able to use a highly-sensitive method to observe the clumping of a protein known to form sticky clumps, known as Lewy bodies, in the brain cells of people with Parkinson’s and some types of dementia. The findings offer hope that a pioneering new clinical test could be developed to diagnose Parkinson’s correctly in its early stages.
Researchers are looking at ways to pinpoint hallmarks or symptoms in earlier stages. For example, scientists in England have developed a noninvasive eye test that can detect Parkinson’s before physical symptoms are present. Observing changes in the retina may offer clues.
The Parkinson’s Foundation has designated 47 medical centers around the world as Centers of Excellence, including 33 in the U.S. A Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence is a medical center with a specialized team of neurologists, movement disorder specialists, physical and occupational therapists, mental health professionals and others who are up to date on the latest PD medications, therapies and research to provide the best care. Each Center is required to meet rigorous care, clinical research, professional training, community education and outreach criteria. Every Center must reapply for designation after five years to ensure requisite standards of care.
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