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Tracking Parkinson's

Tracking Parkinson's is the world's largest ever in-depth study of people with Parkinson's.

About Tracking Parkinson's

Launched in 2012, Tracking Parkinson's aims to study thousands of people to learn more about how the condition develops and progresses.

Ultimately, the aim is to develop biomarkers that will allow us to diagnose and monitor Parkinson's accurately.

The search for biomarkers

We believe that finding biomarkers is crucial to finding a cure.

Biomarkers are changes in the body that can be measured.

We have them for other illnesses - measuring blood sugar levels helps people with diabetes know when to take medicine, and measuring our body temperature helps us track fever. But we don't yet have biological tests that can be used to measure Parkinson's.

Without a reliable biomarker we cannot diagnose the condition accurately or measure how it progresses - a massive barrier to testing new treatments.

Biomarkers would also help us diagnose Parkinson's earlier, when people are most likely to benefit from the new treatments scientists are working on.

Who is taking part?

With your help, we have successfully recruited 2,240 people across 70 study centres UK-wide. People taking part include:

  • people diagnosed with Parkinson's in the past 3 years
  • people diagnosed before the age of 50

The research team are now contacting brothers and sisters of people with Parkinson's who are already enrolled in the study to ask if they are interested in taking part.

Take part in research

Research can only happen because of the amazing people who take part.

Without people like you, progress in Parkinson's research would be impossible.

Find a study to take part in
A researcher treating a Parkinson's patient

Tracking Parkinson's collaborations

The data collected through Tracking Parkinson's has helped lay the foundations for more crucial research projects that are also funded by Parkinson's UK:

Largest ever study of pain in Parkinson's

Dr Monty Silverdale, from the Salford Royal Foundation Trust, and his colleagues are performing the largest and most detailed assessment of pain in Parkinson's ever.

More than half of all people with Parkinson's experience chronic pain. Despite this, there has not been much research into pain in Parkinson's.

This project will help us understand a great deal more about why pain occurs in Parkinson's and how to spot people who are at risk of developing pain.

This will help researchers identify new treatments that will ultimately improve the lives of many people living with the condition.

Searching for biomarkers

Professor Simon Lovestone at the University of Oxford is using cutting-edge technology to screen for subtle changes in proteins in blood and spinal fluid samples taken from people with Parkinson's.

These subtle changes, or biomarkers, could be used to diagnose and monitor the condition. At the moment there are no biomarkers for Parkinson's but researchers are looking for them by comparing blood, spinal fluid and even breath samples from people with and without the condition.

But Simon believes that the way researchers are looking for biomarkers isn't good enough. People with Parkinson's take medications, often have other illnesses and may be less active. All of these factors complicate the research.

This project will compare people with different levels of symptom severity, different rates of progression and different amounts of thinking and memory problems, as well as comparing people with and without Parkinson's.

The team hopes this approach will lead to more reliable and useful biomarkers.

Developing better brain scans for Parkinson's

Researchers at the University of Nottingham, led by Professor Dorothee Auer, are conducting one of the largest ever brain scanning studies in people with Parkinson's using MRI scanners.

At the moment we don't have tests that can accurately diagnose and monitor Parkinson's. This means we can't spot people at risk of developing the condition, and it's impossible to test whether the new drugs being developed can slow the course of Parkinson's.

In this project, the research team will create a 'virtual brain bank' of brain scan images for researchers all over the world to access and study.

Ultimately, this ambitious and innovative research project aims to develop highly accurate and sensitive new brain imaging techniques for Parkinson's.

Having reliable brain scans would revolutionise the diagnosis and management of Parkinson's. It would also profoundly accelerate research to find better treatments and a cure for the condition.

The Critical Path for Parkinson's

The data generated by Tracking Parkinson's is being fed into the Critical Path for Parkinson's - a project that ultimately aims to improve the way new treatments are developed and tested.