Press release: Parkinson's UK announces a world first in the
charity's bid to find a cure
16 April 2012
Parkinson's UK is launching the biggest in-depth research study
tracking people with the neurological condition ever mounted
anywhere in the world today (16 April).
The charity says it is investing over £1.6million into the
research study to unlock further secrets about Parkinson's and to
boost the chances of finding a cure.
Parkinson's UK, the leading research and support charity,
has chosen the opening day of Parkinson's
Awareness Week to put out an urgent call for 3,000 volunteers -
both recently diagnosed people with Parkinson's (in the last 3
years), those aged under the age of 50 at diagnosis, and their
brothers and sisters - to take part in its groundbreaking
The Parkinson's UK research project will be led by Dr Donald
Grosset at the University of Glasgow and will link eventually to
around 50 centres around the UK.
'Tracking Parkinson's' primary aim is to
identify elusive biomarkers for Parkinson's (signpost indicators in
the blood, for example) that could help develop simple tests, like
blood tests, for use as diagnostic tools. Despite the best efforts
of researchers worldwide no biomarkers have yet been identified for
Parkinson's. An early diagnosis is crucial if doctors are to be
able to prescribe the right drugs for people with Parkinson's to
control - and one day, hopefully, even cure - their
The responses of people with Parkinson's to treatments for
distressing symptoms like tremors, movement problems, anxiety,
memory lapses and digestion problems will be closely monitored for
up to 5 years.
Dr Kieran Breen, Director of Research and Innovation at
Parkinson's UK said:
"Studies like 'Tracking Parkinson's' could make
a huge difference and help us to ultimately find a cure.
Identifying biomarkers is key and would revolutionise the diagnosis
and management of Parkinson's. Finding a cure for Parkinson's is
like building a gigantic jigsaw, but we still have a number of the
pieces missing. This vital new study will help us fill in some of
the gaps in our knowledge.
"We hope 'Tracking Parkinson's' will also help
us to identify people who have a greater 'risk' of developing
Parkinson's and we can monitor them more accurately."
News of the study comes at a time when hopes are growing at
Parkinson's UK, that we are closer than ever before to finding a
cure for Parkinson's. A cure, in this instance, Dr Kieran
Breen explained, would mean stopping the devastating symptoms of
Parkinson's - including tremors, mood changes, movement
difficulties, loss of smell and speech problems - in their
Dr Donald Grosset, who is leading the 'Tracking
Parkinson's' study, 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."
To qualify as a volunteer for 'Tracking
Parkinson's' at one of the UK centres, people need to be
under the age of 50 at diagnosis or have been diagnosed with
Parkinson's within the last 3 years (from the date they register
for the study). Brothers or sisters of either set of participants
are also invited to take part.
To find out more about how to take part in Tracking Parkinson’s
call our freephone helpline 0808 800 0303, or visit www.parkinsons.org.uk/tracking
for full details and links to other Parkinson's UK-funded
You can also contact Glasgow University email firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone
0141 232 7846.
For interviews with Dr Donald Grosset, Parkinson's UK Director
of Research Dr Kieran Breen, and case studies of people living with
Parkinson's, contact Jill Davis at Parkinson's UK on 020 7932 1335
Weekend and out of hours: 07961 460 248. Press office
Tracking Parkinson's' visual footage is also available.
Notes for editors
1. There are currently research centres taking part in Tracking
Parkinson's across the UK:
- Milton Keynes
- King's Lynn
- Bury St Edmunds
- With more signing up in the coming months
2. About Parkinson's UK
127,000 people in the UK have Parkinson's. It is a
progressive neurological condition for which there is currently no
As the leading Parkinson's research and support charity we are
currently funding around 90 groundbreaking research projects worth
£15million across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern
Our ambitious 5-year research strategy is pushing our search for
a cure to a new level. Our plan to cure
Parkinson's - Parkinson's UK research strategy 2010-2014
Our Brain Donor Appeal launched in April 2009 won the PR Week
Award 2009 for best not for profit campaign in the Corporate and
Public category, and a Third Sector Excellence award. The Appeal
doubled the number of people on the brain donor register and
attracted support from celebrities including Jeremy Paxman, Graham
Norton, Jane Asher. Donated tissue is requested by researchers
all over the world and continues to contribute to world efforts to
find a cure.
3. About the University of Glasgow
Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest
university in the English-speaking world. Today we are a
broad-based, research intensive institution with a global reach. We
are a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK
research universities, and we're striving to change the world with
our expertise. Our annual research grants and contracts income
totals more than £129million, which puts us in the UK's top 10
earners for research. www.glasgow.ac.uk
Dr Donald Grosset is Consultant Neurologist at the Institute of
Neurological Sciences, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, and
Honorary Senior Lecturer in Neurology at the University of
4. Parkinson's UK's work is totally dependent on donations.
Visit parkinsons.org.uk/findacure or
phone our helpline on 0808 800 0303. To donate £2 to support
our research for a cure, simply text CURE15 £2 to 70070.