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OHSU Joins Effort to Find Clues to Progression of Parkinson's Disease

Landmark five-year clinical study is sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation

Oregon Health & Science University is joining a select group of research institutions working to identify biological signals that indicate the presence or progression of Parkinson’s disease. The landmark clinical study will use a combination of brain imaging studies, lab tests and behavioral assessments to identify key markers of the disease. Modeled on a similar initiative in Alzheimer’s disease, the research has the potential to dramatically change treatment of this troubling disease.

“We need more sensitive tools to detect and measure Parkinson’s disease, especially early in its course,” says Penelope Hogarth, M.D., associate professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine and clinical research director of the Parkinson Center of Oregon at OHSU. “The availability of reliable biomarkers is critical to the development of treatments that could delay the progression of Parkinson’s disease or even prevent its onset.”

OHSU is one of only 18 centers in the United States and Europe selected to participate in the five-year study. The project is sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation.

The study will enroll 400 research participants who have recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s but are not yet taking medication for the disease. Another 200 adults without Parkinson’s also will be enrolled in the study for comparison purposes. Participants will undergo tests including motor, neuropsychiatric and cognitive examinations; brain imaging; and blood, spinal fluid, urine and DNA sampling. Participant enrollment began in September.

“This is an ambitious undertaking, no doubt,” Michael J. Fox said. “But nothing worth having comes easily. Everything we’ve learned up to now, the partnerships we’ve worked to forge, the results of research we’ve funded — it’s all put us in position to launch this effort. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and, hopefully, get this done.”

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To enroll in the study
For more information about this and other current Parkinson disease studies, please contact site coordinator Rebecca Conroy at 503 494-9531.

About the Parkinson’s Center of Oregon
The Parkinson Center of Oregon (PCO), part of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), was founded in 1979 and has become the premier center for Parkinson's disease treatment and research in the Northwest. It has received a national designation as a center of excellence for Parkinson's disease care, education and research. The PCO is known for its comprehensive care and innovative patient care programs. It is a leading research center and had been involved in the latest in cutting-edge research for more than 20 years. It is also committed to statewide education of patients, families and the spectrum of health care professionals.

About OHSU     
Oregon Health & Science University is the state’s only health and research university, and Oregon’s only academic health center. OHSU is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government). OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. It serves patients from every corner of the state, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,400 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to every county in the state.

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