PPMI Recruitment Finishes, Complete Cohort Baseline Analysis Coming Soon

The Parkinson?s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) has now finished recruiting the 400 de novo PD and 200 control subjects the study originally set out to identify. This is an important milestone for the study and for those wishing to take advantage of its growing dataset.  Already, more than 54,000 downloads have been made from scientists in 37 countries across the globe.  The number of researchers who apply for data access and request specimens is expected to increase with the excitement around this latest milestone.

?Having everyone enrolled means that we will soon have a complete baseline dataset,? says Chris Coffey, PhD, director of the Clinical Trials Statistical and Data Management Center at the University of Iowa. ?This makes it possible for scientists to begin to do cross-sectional analysis of everyone that has signed up to participate in PPMI.  That?s powerful.?

In addition to demographic profiles of individuals who have participated, those accessing PPMI data also have access to the results of a variety of assessments, including the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA) and the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT). They can also access data culled from participants? DaTSCAN images and view a full inventory of available biospecimens (read more).

One resource in the database which is particularly useful, and innovative, explains Mark Frasier, PhD, vice president of research programs at The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF), is the ?Visualize Data? function, which allows scientists to compare data across populations with imaging data with assessment results.

The ?Visualize Data? function at work in the PPMI Database

?There are a ton of options for researchers to pursue with this function, depending on their research interest,? says Frasier. ?The visual aspect makes it easy to make correlations quickly, and easily.?

In the coming months, the PPMI Steering Committee plans to present at various meetings and publish a paper that will reference the baseline data as a description of the 600+ participants enrolled in PPMI.  The first presentation of the baseline data has been accepted for the Movement Disorders Society International Congress in June.  Coffey says that a series of follow-up papers from each of the study?s nine cores is planned to follow.  These papers will go into further depth into specific measures germane to each of the Cores.

?It will mean a lot to have this complete dataset at our fingertips to be able to publish a description of the complete cohort,? says Coffey. ?When this happens, the hypothetical will become concrete, which will make the data an easier sell to scientists who may want to use it. Then, we will really begin to see real progress from PPMI.?

Coffey says that he expects ?the floodgates to open? in terms of available, and useful data, over the course of the next six months, as more and more of the study?s volunteers will have reached their one-year visit. After subjects are enrolled for one year, their data and samples really support longitudinal analyses, which could begin to home in on whether or not levels of certain potential biomarkers, such as alpha-synuclein in CSF, change over time.

?Reaching the end of recruitment is a big accomplishment,? he says. ?But from a data perspective we are just getting started. I’m looking forward to diving into this so much more moving forward.?