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Michael J. Fox Foundation Awards $2.8 Million to Drive Development of Parkinson's Disease Biomarker Pipeline
Date:2/4/2010

NEW YORK, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research today announced more than $2.8 million in awards for 13 new projects to speed the discovery of biomarkers of PD. The development of biomarkers is of critical importance to increasing the speed and efficiency of PD therapeutic development, allowing scientists and clinicians to more accurately identify appropriate subjects for clinical studies, measure disease progression and monitor treatment effects in clinical trials.

The lack of clear and reliable biomarkers of PD is one of the greatest hurdles to developing and testing new treatments that slow, stop or even prevent the disease — a key unmet need for Parkinson's patients.  In addition to improving the ability of researchers to diagnose PD and measure its progression, the identification of biomarkers would also help to provide more definitive outcomes from clinical trials.

In a paper published in the April 2009 edition of Neurology, David Vaillancourt, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, demonstrated that a type of MRI imaging technique known as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can distinguish people with early-stage PD from people without the disease. Now with MJFF funding, Dr. Vaillancourt is working to determine if DTI can differentiate PD from other neurological movement disorders to provide additional evidence for the use of DTI as a PD biomarker. In a separate but related longitudinal study, Tanya Simuni, MD, of Northwestern University is testing whether DTI can be used as a marker of PD progression by tracking whether DTI detects changes in people with Parkinson's disease over time.


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SOURCE Michael J. Fox Foundation
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