In the field of Parkinson’s disease (PD) therapeutics, the ultimate goal is to develop disease-modifying treatments that slow, prevent or reverse the underlying disease process. Validated biomarkers of disease progression would dramatically accelerate PD therapeutics research. Current progression biomarkers, however, are not optimal and are not fully validated.
Since 2002, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) has been an essential driver of PD biomarker development efforts, investing nearly $75 million in biomarker research to date. Through this funding, MJFF has enabled researchers to identify several promising biomarker candidates. Recognizing that biomarker verification is traditionally an inefficient, lengthy and costly process, MJFF has worked with leading experts in the field and invested $55 million to develop a solution that would accelerate verification of PD biomarkers. PPMI is the resulting collaboration between researchers, industry, government and study participants that has emerged from these discussions.
Rationale for PPMI
PPMI is an observational clinical study to verify progression markers in Parkinson’s disease. PPMI has emerged as a model for following multiple cohorts of significant interest and is being conducted at a network of clinical sites around the world. The study is designed to establish a comprehensive set of clinical, imaging and biosample data that will be used to define biomarkers of PD progression. Once these biomarkers are defined, they can be used in therapeutic studies, which is the ultimate goal.
PPMI will follow standardized data acquisition protocols to ensure that tests and assessments conducted at multiple sites and across multiple cohorts can be pooled in centralized databases and repositories. The clinical, imaging and biologic data will be easily accessible to researchers in real time through this website. The biological samples collected throughout the course of PPMI will be stored in a central repository that will be accessible to any scientist with promising biomarker leads for the purposes of verifying initial results and assessing correlations to clinical outcomes and other biomarkers. Only with collaborative efforts like PPMI can we efficiently identify and validate biomarker candidates for PD progression.