Dr. Omar El-Agnaf to use PPMI biospecimens for validation of cerebral spinal fluid ?-synuclein species as surrogate biomarkers for Parkinson?s disease

We are excited to announce another recent approval by our Biospecimen Review Committee. Dr. Omar El-Agnaf, Professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Doha, Qatar, will be using PPMI biospecimens for a project entitled: Validation of CSF ?-synuclein species as surrogate biomarkers for Parkinson?s disease.

Dr. El-Agnaf has recently reported higher levels of the oligomeric and phosphorylated forms of ?-synuclein in cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) from patients clinically diagnosed with Parkinson?s disease (PD) versus control subjects and speculates that ?-synuclein oligomers are formed during the early stages of the disease prior to any major clinical manifestation. Dr. El-Agnaf?s ultimate objectives are to validate the quantification of ?-synuclein species in CSF as surrogate biomarkers for PD and to evaluate any correlations with changes in clinical features of PD.

He hypothesizes that levels of ?-synuclein species in CSF have strong potential value as a tool not only for PD diagnosis, but also for pre-symptomatic screening of high-risk individuals who are good candidates for neuroprotective treatment. To interrogate this hypothesis, Dr. El-Agnaf will assess the levels of ?-synuclein species in CSF samples from the PPMI study that were taken at baseline and follow-up from early diagnosed PD cases and healthy controls. This study will allow him to confirm whether CSF ?-synuclein species are elevated during the early stages of the disease and to evaluate any changes of CSF ?-synuclein species with clinical changes and/or progression of PD.

If previous findings that ?-synuclein oligomeric or phosphorylated species are good surrogate biomarkers for PD progression are validated in this study, there may be the potential to use measures of oligomeric or phosphorylated synuclein to identify early ?stage PD before the onset of motor symptoms. The ability to intervene at this early stage of disease would be beneficial because it is likely that this would be when patients would be most responsive to and benefit most from a neuroprotective therapy. In addition, markers that can serve as surrogates of therapeutic effect are needed for clinical trials. If previous findings are validated in this study, it may be possible to use changes in oligomeric or phosphorylated synuclein levels to determine the efficacy to drugs used in future clinical trials.