Last week, Professor Rowe explained the new research on Australian television news program A Current Affair.
As Director of Macquarie Neurology, a specialist neurology practice which provides services to Macquarie University Hospital, Professor Rowe is leading one of 24 official study sites for The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), and the only site in the Southern Hemisphere.
“PPMI is the first-ever large-scale international research study exclusively focused on establishing the scientific infrastructure necessary to develop Parkinson’s disease biomarkers,” says Rowe. “These tools are critical to accelerating the development of disease-modifying therapies that can transform patients’ lives – and this imaging agent is a strong lead in helping us to find a biomarker.”
The study is using a combination of advanced imaging, biologics sampling and behavioural assessments from sites across the world to validate biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease progression.
For example, the particular imaging agent being used at Macquarie Neurology, AV 133, is also being measured at international PPMI sites, including the Baylor College of Medicine (Texas, USA), University of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, USA), John Hopkins University (Maryland, USA), Institute of Neurodegenerative (Connecticut, USA) and Arizona Parkinson’s Disease Consortium-Banner Sun Health Research Institute (Arizona, USA).
“PPMI holds potential not only to accelerate the development of breakthrough Parkinson’s treatments for the future, but also to improve diagnosis and treatment of today’s generation of PD patients,” said Professor Rowe. “Macquarie Neurology has been at the forefront of Parkinson’s disease research in Australia and we continue to lead the way in imaging innovation.”
PPMI is an observational study as opposed to an interventional trial. No experimental drugs are measured or used, and participants will be contributing to a large body of data and biological specimens that can be used to further biomarker research.
The site at Macquarie Neurology is funded by a $1.3-million research grant from the Shake It Up Foundation, and is monitored by the research management team at The Michael J. Fox Foundation. Shake It Up Foundation is the Australian partner of The Michael J. Fox Foundation and directs money to high-impact Parkinson’s disease research projects throughout the country. In addition to funding PPMI, Shake It Up — founded in 2011 by Australian businessman Clyde Campbell, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009 — is working with The Michael J. Fox Foundation to identify and fund high-impact Parkinson’s research in Australia, with four grant awards to date.
Biomarkers: Mission-critical for Parkinson’s Drug Development
A biomarker is a substance, process or characteristic in our bodies that is associated with the risk or presence of a disease, or that changes over time in a way that can be linked to the progression of a disease. Reliable and consistent biomarkers would allow scientists to predict, objectively diagnose and monitor diseases as well as definitively determine which medications work and which will not. There is currently no known biomarker for the progression of Parkinson’s.
PPMI allows researchers the opportunity to study biomarker leads in large, well-characterized cohorts over time. This will significantly increase the speed of developing these markers.
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About The Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI)
The Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) is a $55-million international clinical study sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) and funded by a consortium of 13 industry partners in conjunction with MJFF. Launched in 2010, PPMI aims to find reliable and consistent biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease (PD) progression. The study is testing today’s most promising biomarker candidates through neuroimaging, the collection of blood, urine, and spinal fluid, and clinical and behavioral tests. Valid measures could allow scientists to predict, objectively diagnose and monitor diseases in both Parkinson’s disease patients and populations at-risk to developing Parkinson’s. For information on PPMI, please contact Macquarie Neurology on 9812 3720 or 9812 3721.
About The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to ensuring the development of better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda. MJFF has funded over $325 million in research to date. For more information, please visit www.michaeljfox.org.
About Macquarie Neurology
Macquarie Neurology is a specialist neurology practice located in the Macquarie University Clinic at Macquarie University, Sydney, and provides all aspects of adult neurological assessment and care. We provide comprehensive neurological services to Macquarie University Hospital, the newest and most technologically advanced hospital in Australia.
About the Shake It Up Australia Foundation
The Shake It Up Australia Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation established in 2011 to promote and focus on Parkinson’s disease research in Australia. Clyde Campbell, CEO of Machinery Automation & Robotics in New South Wales, launched the foundation after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2009, with the goal to increase awareness and funding toward finding a cure. As a community-funded charity, Shake It Up Australia Foundation relies on its partners and supporters in its efforts to fund research targeted at identifying better treatments, prevention strategies and, ultimately, a cure. For more information, visit: www.shakeitup.org.au.
Read more: http://www.mq.edu.au/