Health Futures Institute

Identifying patients at risk of rapid progression in Parkinson's disease

Researchers from Centre for Molecular Medicine and Innovative Therapeutics are exploring the genetics and molecular pathology of Parkinson’s disease with the goal of improving the precision and clinical management of patients.


Areas of research

Molecular Medicine, Parkinson’s Disease

Technology utilised


Lead researchers

Professor Sulev Kõks


What was the need for this project?

Parkinson’s disease can be a debilitating and confronting disorder for many, causing damage to the nerve cells responsible for the smooth control of muscles and movement.

The disease mainly affects people aged over 65, but a fraction of cases develop the disorder much earlier. There is still much we don’t know about causes of the disorder or how and why it affects individuals differently.


How the project was completed

As early genetic studies have shown the onset and progression of Parkinson’s disease can be influenced by multiple genes, this research sought to understand the varying trajectories of the disease for individuals to help create personalised treatment plans.

Using specialised genotyping software, the study analysed sequencing data from the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative – a study that followed individuals with early stage Parkinson’s or with risk factors and control volunteers over time.


Results and achievements for this project

The research has identified many variations within the DNA of patients to compile an extensive list of genetic markers associated with Parkinson’s disease. The next phase of the study will investigate the role of genetic markers in the progression of Parkinson’s disease and potentially identify treatment options that delay the onset of aggressive deterioration.

The findings will be used to identify variants that might occur more frequently in individuals with Parkinson’s disease, and whether these patterns are associated with rapid progression of the disease. Ideally, this will lead to more accurate diagnosis of a patient’s Parkinson’s disease journey and inform better treatment plans to improve the patient’s quality of life.


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