The Michael J. Fox Foundation and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Join Forces on Parkinson's Disease Biomarker Discovery Project

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The Michael J. Fox Foundation and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Join Forces on Parkinson's Disease Biomarker Discovery Project

November 07,2012

NEW YORK – Today, The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) and the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) are announcing a first-of-its-kind collaboration called BioFIND, a multi-site study exclusively focused on identifying Parkinson's disease (PD) biomarkers.

"BioFIND is a novel public-private partnership to accelerate the search for better Parkinson's disease treatments," says Mark Frasier, PhD, vice president of research programs at MJFF.  "By combining our Foundation's disease focus with NINDS' scope and infrastructure, we hope to make inroads into the search for a Parkinson's biomarker, a critical tool that could one day lead to disease-modifying therapies to slow or stop the progression of the disease."

BioFIND is designed to complement the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), the Foundation's existing $45 million biomarkers study and the Parkinson's Disease Biomarkers Program (PDBP), an NINDS consortium which will be launched in November 2012.  While PPMI is aimed at validating existing biomarkers that researchers have already identified, BioFIND and PDBP will be devoted to finding entirely new ones.  Once discovered, these new leads will move seamlessly into PPMI, ensuring that the pipeline remains seeded and viable.

"Through BioFIND, NINDS and the Fox Foundation are leveraging our resources to tackle a really important challenge in Parkinson's disease research," said Story Landis, PhD, director of NINDS.  "A set of reliable biomarkers for Parkinson's disease would greatly enhance our ability to develop new therapies and evaluate them in clinical trials."

There's an important difference in terms of those who will participate in the study:  While PPMI engaged only those who had been newly diagnosed with PD, BioFIND is searching for people who have had PD for at least five years.  BioFIND aims to develop both a clinical dataset and biologic sample set that scientists and clinicians from across the world may use for their own biomarker discovery research. Those who are interested in participating in BioFIND can register using the Foundation's clinical trial matching tool, Fox Trial Finder.  To learn more visit https://foxtrialfinder.org/biofind/.

A biomarker is a substance, process or characteristic that is associated with the risk or presence of a disease, or that changes over time with disease progression. Reliable and consistent biomarkers allow scientists to predict, diagnose and monitor diseases and can be used to help determine which medications work and which do not. There is currently no known Parkinson's biomarker.

BioFIND will begin recruiting this November.  The study aims to recruit 120 individuals who are between 55 and 85 years old and who have had PD for at least five years and for no more than 15 years. The study will also recruit 120 control volunteers who do not have PD.  NINDS is providing access to an existing biorepository for storing and maintaining the biological samples and making them available to researchers.  As sponsor, MJFF will invest about $1 million and play an active role in the day-to-day management of the study.

BioFIND is being conducted at five sites: the University of Chicago, Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, Rush University in Chicago, the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and Columbia University in New York City.

The principal investigator for the study is Un Kang, MD, of the University of Chicago.