In spite of ongoing research, Parkinson's disease remains a mystery in many ways. In an effort to study the interactions between genomics and Parkinson's disease, the Cleveland Clinic has joined the ongoing efforts of 23andMe, a leading personal genetics company, to recruit Parkinson's patients to participate in research by contributing their DNA to a research database and completing online surveys about their health.
"We are aware of the limitations of today's treatments, so we are always thinking about what we can do to advance the care of this incurable disease," said Andre Machado, M.D., Ph.D., director of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Neurological Restoration. "This collaboration will help us to learn more about the genomics of Parkinson's disease and how it may impact individualized care in the future."
The project is part of the Cleveland Clinic's personalized healthcare initiative, which aims to drive discoveries that allow medical professionals to better predict risk for disease and response to therapies, with the ultimate goal to improve patient care.
Patients who volunteer for the study will be asked to provide a saliva sample for DNA analysis and agree to participate in online surveys about their experience with Parkinson's. 23andMe hopes to enroll 10,000 participants; Cleveland Clinic expects to enroll about 1,000 patients toward this goal.
"The quality of the research will depend heavily on sample size. Patient enrollment and participation is critical to the success of the project," said Ryan Walsh, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Program at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas.
23andMe first assembled its Parkinson's disease research initiative in June 2009. Within an 18-month period, 23andMe assembled and analyzed genetic data from more than 3,400 Parkinson's patients and successfully replicated the top 20 previously known genetic associations with Parkinson's disease in addition to determining new genetic associations for Parkinson's.
Participation is free and voluntary. Those who take part in the study will be identified by a unique code, not by their names, in order to protect their privacy. Participants can choose to receive a report summarizing the genes identified in their DNA, though these findings will not be placed in their medical record.
To facilitate participation in the registry, the Cleveland Clinic has detailed information and dedicated computer portals set up at locations where Parkinson's patients are most likely to be visiting, including the main campus in Cleveland and the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. Two additional locations, the Cleveland Clinic's Lakewood Hospital (Lakewood, Ohio) and Cleveland Clinic Florida (Weston, Fla.), will be enrolling patients as well. Patients can also e-mail the Cleveland Clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org or 23andMe at email@example.com for more details or to sign up.