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Charity launches mass Parkinson’s study

3,000 volunteers and their siblings will be tracked over five years

Mark Gould

Monday, 16 April 2012

Charity Parkinson’s UK has launched what it claims is the world’s biggest investigation into the causes of the disease.

It is looking for 3,000 volunteers – people under 50 recently diagnosed with the disease. Their brothers and sisters will also be asked to take part in the study. The aim is to identify markers in the blood which could be used to create a simple diagnostic test for the disease, something which does not yet exist.

The responses to various treatments of those taking part in the study will be closely monitored for up to five years.

The condition affects almost 130,000 people in the UK. The charity said it was investing more than £1.6m in the Tracking Parkinson's study with the long-term aim of boosting the chances of finding a cure. It said early diagnosis is crucial if doctors are to be able to prescribe the right drugs for people with the condition.

The study is being led by Dr Donald Grosset, a neurologist at Glasgow University, who says that he wants to find better ways of both diagnosing and treating the disease.

“Finding a cure for Parkinson's is like building a gigantic jigsaw, but we still have a number of the pieces missing” said Dr Kieran Breen from Parkinson's UK.

Eventually the project will link up to 40 research centres across the UK.

Dr Grosset said: "The cure for Parkinson's is a global challenge and all the samples gathered from our thousands of volunteers will be available for analysis by researchers the world over.

"This, in itself, will speed up our ultimate goal - to develop a cure for Parkinson's.

"I am very excited to be leading this cutting edge research collaborating with top researchers from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland."

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