The Parkinson's Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine is an official site for the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative, sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Enrollment at Baylor has begun and will continue for about two years.

The initiative, which includes about 20 sites in the United States and Europe, aims to identify biomarkers of Parkinson's disease progression through a combination of advanced imaging, biologics sampling and behavioral assessments.

Detecting disease

Biomarkers are measurable clinical, biological or imaging characteristics that can be used to detect the presence of disease or objectively follow the progression over time. They play a critical role in development of therapeutic interventions by allowing researchers to determine whether a treatment is having its desired impact on disease course and progression. No reliable biomarkers of Parkinson's disease have yet been identified.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is spearheading a consortium of funding partners who will contribute $40 million total to support the five-year observational clinical study.

Researchers will enroll 400 Parkinson's patients who are newly diagnosed and have not yet begun taking Parkinson's medications. Another 200 control participants, those who do not have Parkinson's disease, whose age and gender are matched to those of Parkinson's disease patients in the study, will also be enrolled. Participants will undergo tests including motor, neuropsychiatric and cognitive examinations, brain imaging, as well as blood, cerebrospinal fluid, urine and DNA sampling. Researchers will then compare data from the two groups in an effort to pinpoint Parkinson's disease biomarkers. Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative represents the first time that a biomarker study of this scale and scope has been undertaken for Parkinson's disease.

Forefront of Parkinson's research

As an official study site, BCM will enroll 20 Parkinson's patients and 10 controls. Participants' commitment to the study will range from three to five years depending on date of enrollment.

"The Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative is a landmark study with potential to significantly accelerate the development of breakthrough Parkinson's treatments," said Dr. Joseph Jankovic, professor of neurology, distinguished chair in movement disorders at BCM and principal investigator of PPMI at BCM. "Baylor College of Medicine has been at the forefront of Parkinson's disease research for over three decades. It is deeply meaningful to have been selected as a site for this important study and to have our commitment to speeding Parkinson's solutions recognized."

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson's disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson's today. To date, the foundation has funded nearly $196 million in research.

For more information on the study or to see if you qualify please contact research coordinator Christine Hunter at 713-798-3951 or

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