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The Parkinson's Institute and El Camino Hospital Join Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) as Official Study Site

Sunnyvale, CA - September 28, 2010 - The Parkinson's Institute, in conjunction with El Camino Hospital announced that the hospital is one of 18 official study sites for the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), a landmark observational clinical study sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation, which will use a combination of advanced imaging, biologics sampling and behavioral assessments to identify biomarkers of Parkinson's disease progression. Enrollment of 20 people with Parkinson's disease and 10 controls at The Parkinson's Institute will begin this fall, and continue for approximately two years.

"At the Parkinson's Institute we have been working for over 23 years to end this disease, but have been hindered by the lack of biological markers for disease progression and diagnosis--by solving this problem, this new initiative could greatly speed up testing of new drugs in clinical trials," notes J. William Langston, MD, Founder and Executive Director of the Institute.

"PPMI holds potential not only to accelerate the development of breakthrough Parkinson's treatments for the future, but also to improve diagnosis and treatment of today's generation of PD patients," said Caroline Tanner, MD, PhD, Site Principal Investigator.

PPMI participants at the Parkinson's Institute will undergo the neuroimaging component of the study at El Camino Hospital.

Ramesh Gopi, MD, El Camino Hospital's Vice Chief of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine Investigator for the PPMI study at the Parkinson's Institute, agreed. "It is deeply meaningful to have been selected as a PPMI site," he said. "This is a significant step toward our objective of becoming a destination for neuroimaging of movement disorders."

"Parkinson's is a devastating disease, and our goal is to expand our knowledge of it--and of how to beat it--through advanced imaging and research," said Imtiaz Qureshi, MD, Medical Director of El Camino's Radiology Department. "With over $20 million invested in the latest imaging equipment, El Camino Hospital has some of the best imaging technology available, making us perfectly suited to partner with The Parkinson's Institute on this groundbreaking clinical study."

Said Michael J. Fox: "This is an ambitious undertaking, no doubt. But nothing worth having comes easily. Everything we've learned up to now, the partnerships we've worked to forge, the results of research we've funded--it's all put us in position to launch this effort. We're ready to roll up our sleeves and, hopefully, get this done."

Biomarkers: Mission-critical for Parkinson's Drug Development

A biomarker could be any objectively measurable physical characteristic associated with the presence of disease (diagnostic or risk marker) or any characteristic that changes over time in a way that can be tied to the progression of disease (progression marker). "There is no doubt that finding a biomarker is critical to the development of next-generation therapies, and that the lack of this tool is among the most critical issues facing the PD research field," said Katie Hood, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. "MJFF has funded biomarker discovery efforts for years. Now we are poised for a concerted, unified effort that will take these discoveries to the next level."

The lack of a PD biomarker impedes PD diagnosis and treatment, and also critically stalls the development of improved therapies, particularly therapies to slow or stop the progression of PD, something no currently available treatment can do. Clinical trials of new, potentially disease-modifying Parkinson's treatments are at risk of yielding inconclusive results, because there is no way to measure the effects of those treatments objectively.

About The Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI)

PPMI, a groundbreaking study to find biomarkers of Parkinson's disease, will be carried out over five years at 18 clinical sites in the United States and Europe. The study will enroll 400 de novo Parkinson's patients (patients who are newly diagnosed and have not yet taken PD medication) and 200 healthy age-matched controls. Participants will undergo tests including motor, neuropsychiatric and cognitive examinations; brain imaging with DatSCAN™ and MRI; and blood, CSF, urine and DNA sampling. For information on enrolling in PPMI, please contact site coordinator Linda Rees at (408) 542 5664.

About The Michael J. Fox Foundation

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to ensuring the development of better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for Parkinson's disease through an aggressively funded research agenda. MJFF has funded over $175 million in research to date.

About the Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center

Founded in 1988, The Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center (PI) is America's only independent non-profit organization that provides basic and clinical research, clinical trials and a comprehensive movement disorder patient clinic for Parkinson's disease (PD) and related neurological movement disorders, all under one roof. Our mission is to find the causes, provide first class patient care and discover a cure. Our unique freestanding organization supports a strong collaboration of translational medicine designed to more directly connect research to patient care--from the "bench to bedside."

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