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PDx, Stony Brook Win NINDS Grant

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Pharmacogenomics and genetic testing company Population Diagnostics (PDx) said today that it will work with researchers at Stony Brook University Medical Center under a grant funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to study the genetic causes of Parkinson's disease.

The company will use funding from the $200,000 grant, awarded to its Co-Founder and Stony Brook Associate Professor Eli Hatchwell, to identify and characterize biomarkers for the Parkinson's spectrum of disorders.

PDx CEO Jim Chinitz explained in a statement that Parkinson's "is actually many diseases masquerading as one general set of symptoms," and that there may be "dozens of subtypes of Parkinson's that can be delineated as genetic subgroups. This grant will allow us to systematically reveal the genes that harbor disease-causing mutations for Parkinson's disease."

The Melville, NY-based company said that it uses an approach to studying disease called the "Common Disease/Rare Variant" hypothesis, meaning that it aims to describe the disease's causes by discovering "a collection of rare variants within multiple genes."

Each of those variants will be capable of independently causing the set of symptoms that currently are used to define the disease, the firm said.

"Our approach to revealing causative, rare variants will result in the identification of multiple genes that affect different biological pathways," Hatchwell said. He said that such an approach "exemplifies personalized medicine" because it may enable "a comprehensive set of causative rare variants" to be used to describe the disease, and eventually to be applied through personalized treatments.