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NIH to Fund Parkinson's Disease Biomarker Projects

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health announced that it is seeking grant applications for research projects focused on discovering biomarkers in Parkinson's disease and other Parkinsonian syndromes in order to enhance the development and clinical testing of therapeutics for these conditions.

Given the heterogeneity of Parkinson's disease, its differential diagnosis from other Parkinsonian conditions is challenging, particularly in the early stages of disease onset, according to the NIH. There is no definitive biomarker for the disease or for other atypical neurodegenerative Parkinsonian disorders that can be evaluated while a patient is alive. 

Further, recent studies point to multiple forms of Parkinson's disease, which may be different in various ethnic groups that are frequently underrepresented in clinical studies. "Particular subgroups of [Parkinson's disease] may involve multiple different etiological or pathological processes, and therefore therapeutic approaches in these sub-groups may also require different strategies," the NIH said.

To address these issues, the NIH said that it is soliciting grant applications for research projects aiming to discover biomarkers for Parkinson's disease. Examples of studies appropriate for this funding opportunity include ones involving genetically defined cohorts or particular ethnic groups. The NIH is also interested in the discovery of biomarkers for differentiating synucleinopathies from tauopathies, for identifying subtypes of Parkinson's disease, and for differentiating Parkinson's disease from other Parkinsonian disorders.

The amount of funding available will depend on NIH appropriations. Additional details can be found here

This latest funding opportunity is part of the NIH's Parkinson's Disease Biomarkers Program (PDBP), which was established in 2012 by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to foster collaboration between ongoing Parkinson's disease biomarker research, standardize data collection and management in the projects, and accelerate the discovery of new biomarkers. 

Earlier this week, the NIH announced $3.5 million in funding for research identifying and developing biomarkers for Lewy body dementias to help expand the types of patient groups included in the PDBP.