USC Stevens INI Launches $ 3 Million Study to Solve Some Parkinson’s Riddles

USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute (USC Stevens INI), part of USC’s Keck School of Medicine, has launched $ 3 million study that will bring together researchers and data from 20 countries to answer some of the most pressing questions about Parkinson’s disease (PD). The 5-year collaborative effort, known as ENIGMA-PD, will analyze brain imaging, genetics and clinical data in one of the world’s largest studies of the disease.

This new grant will address some of the key puzzles regarding the progression of PD in the brain and how treatment can protect against these changes. “

Paul M. Thompson, PhD, New Initiative Principal Investigator and Associate Director, USC Stevens INI

Researchers have already conducted one of the largest internationally coordinated analyzes of PD brain imaging data. They studied the structural differences between 1,182 healthy brains and 2,357 with PD, identifying a characteristic pattern of tissue damage that started in the temporal lobes of the brain and spread throughout the cortex. These findings challenge conventional wisdom about PD, that deeper regions of the brain are damaged first and may hint at multiple subtypes of PD with different courses and treatments. The study was published in the journal Movement disorders in July.

ENIGMA-PD will investigate whether treatments, including drugs such as L-Dopa and surgical therapies such as deep brain stimulation, can slow this progression of brain tissue loss and clinical decline. Researchers will also study genetic factors that contribute to the risk of PD, with a particular focus on how different genes increase the risk of developing PD in people of European or Asian descent.

“What is unique about this project is that it engages experts from all over the world, which will be crucial in understanding how the risk and progression of Parkinson’s disease may differ depending on the genetic history of an individual. person, ”said Thompson, who is also a professor of ophthalmology, neurology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, radiology and engineering at the Keck School of Medicine.

The grant funds researchers who collect data in historically little-studied regions, including Taiwan, South Africa and Siberia. Thompson will lead the effort in collaboration with Kathleen Poston, MD, from Stanford University and Ysbrand van der Werf, PhD, from Amsterdam University Medical Centers in the Netherlands.

ENIGMA-PD builds on the success of the Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) consortium, which brings together neuroimaging researchers from 45 countries to study a variety of brain diseases and processes. Founded in 2009, the ENIGMA network has conducted some of the world’s largest neuroimaging studies on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, epilepsy, and other conditions affecting the brain.

The project builds on INI’s ongoing work on PD, which began in 2010 with the launch of the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI). The institute stores all clinical, genetic and imaging data from more than 1,400 people in the PPMI study, which is sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

“The PPMI has already advanced critical research into biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease,” said Arthur W. Toga, PhD, senior professor of ophthalmology, neurology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, radiology and engineering, the Ghada Irani chair in neuroscience at the Keck School and director of the INI. “ENIGMA-PD will amplify these efforts and help us continue to improve the prognosis for people living with PD.”


USC Keck School of Medicine

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