Three Organizations Unite to Study Similarities and Differences Between Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF), the Alzheimer’s Association and The W. Garfield Weston Foundation have joined forces to  to inspire scientists to envision research projects that will use existing data and/or biological samples from two large-scale biomarker studies: the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) and the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI).

The three organizations have created and funded a new research grant program — Biomarkers Across Neurodegenerative Diseases — that will support initiatives including those that:

  • analyze datasets to test hypotheses related to aging and neurodegenerative disorders;
  • seek to identify panels or pathways that may play a role in disease mechanisms, such as around inflammation;
  • pursue shared or disparate biochemical markers of disease risk, onset or progression

Although Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are distinct conditions, mounting evidence shows possible links between the genetics and brain changes associated with them. For example, analysis from PPMI has shown that levels of a protein implicated in Alzheimer’s disease (amyloid-beta) are lower in the cerebrospinal fluid of individuals with Parkinson’s compared to individuals without Parkinson’s. In addition, postmortem studies have found heightened load of amyloid-beta in the brains of some people with Parkinson’s and increased presence of a Parkinson’s-implicated protein (alpha-synuclein) in some people with Alzheimer’s.

Read more about the new initiative here.

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