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article imageMichael J. Fox Foundation backs $40m research study

By Jane Fazackarley     Sep 28, 2010 in Health
The clinical study, which is called the 'Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative' (PPMI), will be carried out over five years. The study aims to identify biomarkers of Parkinson's Disease.
According to the Michael J. Fox Foundation website "biomarkers are a substance or characteristic in our bodies that is associated with the presence of disease."
The study will be observational which means that patients taking part will have a number of tests relating to Parkinson's Disease but will not be given any new drugs or treatment. Tests will include imaging techniques, blood analysis, tests on spinal fluid and further clinical tests.
The information obtained from this study will place a crucial role in finding new and more effective treatments for Parkinson's Disease.
The clinical study will cover the United States and Europe. It will be sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Pfizer and GE Healthcare will also back the research. The study team will be made up of a number of clinicians and scientists who have previously undertaken research into Parkinson's. Ken Marek, MD, who is President and Senior Scientist of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease in Connecticut, will head the study.
Kenneth L. Marek, MD said:
“With PD progression biomarkers in hand, it will be possible to establish objective endpoints for clinical trials of disease-modifying Parkinson’s treatments."
“Endpoints are concrete ways to demonstrate that a candidate therapy is, or is not, slowing disease course in PD patients, as opposed to simply treating disease symptoms. Without a biomarker, this sort of evidence-based decision-making is much more difficult.”
Researchers are looking for 400 patients to take part in the study who have been recently diagnosed and are not on medication. They are also looking for another 200 people who don't have the disease to participate.
A letter from Michael J. Fox,which has been published on the Foundation website, said:
"If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that better treatments aren’t going to fall from the sky. Real challenges stand in the way of the results we need, and it’s up to all of us to get involved and meet those challenges however we can. By participating in PPMI, you can do just that."
"Our Foundation has been funding various biomarker projects for years. Now the time has come for a concerted, unified effort that will optimize our chances for results. With your help, we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get it done. Everything we’ve learned up to now has put us in position to work with the hundreds of partners — study volunteers, scientists, clinicians, funders — who are coming together to make PPMI a reality."
"I have experienced profound benefits — some of the richest of my life — from taking action to meet challenges I never even saw coming. Parkinson’s was a choice that was made for me, but once I accepted that, I found a freedom to do incredible things that I would never have known about under other circumstances. It’s amazing; it’s a gift. And I believe we all have that freedom."
The actor was diagnosed with early onset PD in 1991. The Michael J. Fox Foundation was set up with the aim of finding a cure for people who have Parkinson's Disease. Since it was established the Foundation has funded close to $200m worth of research.
Michael J. Fox said:
“I believe that we are going to find the cure for Parkinson’s disease — but we all have to work together to make it happen."
“There’s something you can do to help change the lives of millions of people.”
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