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UCSD To Start Five-Year Study Of Parkinson’s Disease

The UC San Diego School of Medicine is embarking on a five-year study of Parkinson's disease in partnership with a foundation created by actor Michael J. Fox, the school announced today.

UCSD will be one of 18 participants in the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative, in which researchers will try to find substances or characteristics in the body that can be associated with the progression of the illness.

Since no so-called "biomarkers" are known, medical professionals have had a hard time diagnosing and treating the condition. The development of medications has been slowed because there is no way to objectively measure their results, according to the foundation.

"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 Dr. Douglas Galasko, a professor in the UCSD Department of Neurosciences and the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.

Parkinson's is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that afflicts one in 100 people over the age of 60.

Fox, known for his roles in the television series "Family Ties" and the "Back to the Future" movies, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1991, and publicly disclosed his condition seven years later.

UCSD plans to begin enrolling 20 patients and 10 control subjects next month.

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