Ashkenazi Jews are being urged to take a lead role in a new study to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease, writes Amy Hirst.
Imperial College London is taking part in the international Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), launched by the Michael J. Fox Foundation. It is asking for Ashkenazi Jews to volunteer to be monitored for five years to aid research into the genetic mutation LLRK2, which is directly related to the debilitating condition.
Imperial College London’s Dr Nicola Pavese, who is co-principal investigator of the study, said: “Individuals of Ashkenazi descent have a greater likelihood of carrying a gene linked to Parkinson’s disease than persons in the general population.
“Studying people who carry this gene and have Parkinson’s disease or have a blood relative with Parkinson’s is extremely important as it will help us to understand how the disease develops and progresses.”
Parkinson’s results in a progressive loss of specific nerve cells in the brain and affects one in 500 people. Current treatments can only manage the disease, which include a tremor, muscle stiffness and slowness of movement.
Imperial College London hopes to enrol 500 people who carry the LRRK2 mutation.
To find out more, visit www.michaeljfox.org/ppmi/genetics or call 0203 311 1714.