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Cleveland Clinic, 23andMe Partner on Parkinson’s Database

DNA strand (NSF)

(James. J. Caras, National Science Foundation)

Cleveland Clinic has agreed to recruit Parkinson’s disease patients to contribute their DNA and complete online health surveys for a research database compiled by genetics testing company 23andMe in Mountain View, California. The project has the support of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, National Parkinson Foundation, and Parkinson’s Institute.

The goal of project is to discover how genes and the environment influence Parkinson’s disease. Little is known about the way genes relate to Parkinson’s disease, the effectiveness of treatments, or the natural course of the disease. “This collaboration will help us to learn more about the genomics of Parkinson’s disease,” says Andre Machado who directs Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Neurological Restoration, “and how it may impact individualized care in the future.”

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, with Cleveland Clinic providing about 1,000 of that total. Patients who take part in the study will also be enrolled in 23andMe’s Parkinson’s disease community, which will allow them to engage online with other Parkinson’s patients and provide access to 23andMe’s Personal Genome Service.

The company began its Parkinson’s disease research initiative in June 2009, and after 18 months collected and analyzed genetic data from more than 3,400 Parkinson’s patients. The research replicated the top 20 previously known genetic associations with Parkinson’s disease, as well as determined two new genetic associations for Parkinson’s. The findings were published in the journal PLoS Genetics in June 2011.

Cleveland Clinic has set up computer portals to enroll Parkinson’s disease patients for the project at the its main campus in Cleveland and satellite locations at Lakewood Hospital in Lakewood, Ohio, Weston, Florida, and Las Vegas, Nevada. 23andMe provides an online enrollment page on its Web site.

Read more: Trial to Test Gene Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

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