Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Parkinson Progression Marker Initiative: An Emerging Success Story

In an earlier post Biomarker Qualification Consortia: The ADNI Success Story, I discussed the value of biomarker qualification consortia by highlighting the success of the NIH sponsored Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI).  Here, I would like to raise awareness to another biomarker qualification consortium in the field of neurodegenerative medicine: the Michael J. Fox Foundation sponsored Parkinson Progression Marker Initiative (PPMI).

PPMI is a consortium of academic, industrial, and non-profit organizations dedicated to the assessment and qualification of biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease (PD) through the longitudinal monitoring of early PD patients.  In contrast to ADNI, PPMI main sponsor is the Michael J. Fox Foundation: a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of PD treatment through scientific research and public awareness.  PPMI has assembled a total of 21 sites in the US and Europe which will recruit and follow 400 early PD patients and 200 age-matched controls volunteers over a 5-year period.  Similarly to ADNI, PPMI has defined a set of standardized protocols for the assessment of clinical (motor assessment, neuropsychiatric, olfaction) end points and imaging (DATScan, MRI, DTI), biochemical (alpha-synuclein, DJ-1, urate), and genetic biomarkers.  In keeping with the non-competitive spirit of the consortium, all data collected by PPMI will be made available to the scientific community through a centralized data repository.  PPMI also intends to facilitate access the biosamples collected from the study participants.

Although PPMI has only been active since June 2010 and not all sites have been active since the study start, the study has already enrolled 50% of the control participants (goal: 200 individuals) and 31% of the PD participants (goal: 400 individuals).

As it is common for studies of this magnitude, PPMI has encountered a few bumps in the road.  Although DATScan was approved by the FDA for US use on January 14th 2011, this critical imaging biomarker technology has not been available since February 2011 (status may have changed since this information was released).

Thierry Sornasse for Integrated Biomarker Strategy

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