Patients with Parkinson’s to Receive Free Genetic Testing in New Nation Wide Study

In a press release by the Parkinson’s Foundation, the non-profit has announced an exciting collaboration with Sanofi, the global pharmaceutical company, which will dedicated $1 million to the nonprofit to conduct a national genetic study for people with Parkinson’s disease. The study is called: PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson’s Disease initiative.
The funds will support free genetic testing and counseling for patients in order to determine which Parkinson’s related gene may be responsible for their disease, and it will also add the the growing understanding on the various causes of the progressive disorder. The finding of PD GENEration will be important for both researchers, who benefit from a more specific breakdown of the biology causing people to experience Parkinsons; and patients, whose results may qualify them for experimental trials. These findings will also contribute to larger efforts to work towards their cure. This research will enrich the growing body of literature, breaking down the biology behind the movement disorder.

Parkinson’s Disease 

Parkinson’s disease  is a rare, progressive disorder of the central nervous system, which over time affects the person’s ability to produce dopamine, impeding movement.  Dopamine is critical for communication between the brain and muscles, and the lack of it impedes a person’s control over their muscles. Over time, patients will first experience mild tremors and rigidity on one side of the body, before the disease progresses into balance loss and causes the patient to move slowly. This eventually becomes too debilitating for patient’s to live on their own. There are symptomatic treatment options available, but no cure.

PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson’s Disease

The researchers anticipate that this wide reaching project will shed light on genetic risk factors that may otherwise have gone unspotted.  This is relevant for the 1 in 10 to 1 in 7 of patients with Parkinson’s caused by genetics. By finding the overarching genetic makeup of patients, the data will paint a more specific picture on each of the mutations, and how those manifest in unique disease experiences. Researchers expect this will enable better understanding of which subjects to use for trials personalized Parkinson’s therapies. 
According to the Parkinson’s Foundations, Therapeutic Area Head of Neurology Development Erik Wallstroem said,
“With an estimated 10-15% of people with Parkinson’s disease having a genetic form of the disease, people may have risk genes even when they have no apparent family history. Genetic testing is critical for advancing understanding of the biology behind Parkinson’s disease and increasing patient access to clinical trials targeting specific genetic mutations, with the hope of slowing disease progression. The PD GENEration study is an exciting platform to facilitate this, and it’s already demonstrating early success.”
They hope that by providing patients with genetic tests, doctors will identify more rare mutations and understand the relationship between the patient’s sharing them. They hope that by the end of 2020, there will be 15,000 Parkinson’s patients enrolled in the study. The enrollment will be virtual, communicating virtual and conduction genetic tests with at-home genetic test kits.
The press report by the Parkinson’s Foundation quoted the companies president and CEO, John. L. Lehr, who said,
 “This collaboration with Sanofi will help us continue to improve Parkinson’s care by helping PD GENEration participants better manage their disease while supporting  scientists to better understand Parkinson’s disease. We are thrilled to work with Sanofi to empower the Parkinson’s disease community with more information about their diagnosis and potential treatment options.”

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