Researchers’ £750,000 grant for Parkinson’s biomarkers

Researchers from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) have secured a major £750,000 grant from leading research charity Parkinson’s UK, to search for elusive Parkinson’s biomarkers. The announcement comes on the first day of the G8 Dementia Summit in London.

The award is to a team of researchers from London, Cambridge, Oxford, and Newcastle, and led by Professor Simon Lovestone, Director of the NIHR Dementia Translational Research Collaboration, to enable them to search for biomarkers. This new research will use blood samples and information collected through the largest ever in-depth study of people with Parkinson’s, ‘Tracking Parkinson’s’, also funded by Parkinson’s UK, which started in 2012.

Finding a reliable biomarker is a goal for many Parkinson’s researchers as it would transform the diagnosis and management of the condition. As there have been no significant developments in new Parkinson’s drugs for many years, it would also speed up research to find the next generation of treatments, which it is hoped would be able to slow or stop the progression of the condition.

The team of researchers from NIHR Biomedical Research Centres and Units in Cambridge, Oxford, London and Newcastle, as well as leading UK and US biotechnology companies, will look for biomarkers for Parkinson’s in both blood and in cerebrospinal fluid.

Professor Lovestone said: “This study is very important as finding Parkinson’s biomarkers could be essential to developing future treatments. We’ve seen huge leaps in other conditions like some forms of cancer, where biomarkers have been identified, and a blood test for Alzheimer’s is now looking hopeful. We need to do the same for Parkinson’s”.