Large collaborative effort provides first publicly available genetic data for Parkinson's research

Two Online/Articles published by The Lancet Neurology pave the way for future research into possible genetic associations in Parkinson's disease (PD), as data from hundred of patients and healthy controls are, for the first time, made publicly available.

PD is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that occurs in more than one per thousand people. Risk for PD is increased by 70% in individuals who have a sibling with the disease, which suggests that there could be an underlying genetic cause. However, traditional testing of potential genetic associations in idiopathic (without an identified cause) PD has been unsuccessful in the past.

A team of researchers funded by the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research have undertaken the largest genetics study of its kind to date for PD and the largest replication effort of genome-wide-derived associations in any specialty. The investigators did not find any association between 13 previously implicated genetic variations (single-nucleotide polymorphisms*) and susceptibility for PD.

A second group of investigators lead by Andrew Singleton (Molecular Genetics Unit at the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, USA) also undertook a genetic study of the role of common genetic variation in PD. The authors did not find any common genetic variant that exerts a large risk for the disease. However, Singleton's team generated the first publicly available genotype data for PD that can be mined and augmented by other researchers to identify common genetic variability that results in minor and moderate risk for disease. Samples were derived from The NINDS (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) Human Genetics Resource Center at the Coriell Institute (http://ccr.coriell.org/ninds), a growing bank for human cells, DNA samples, clinical data, and information sources, which aims to accelerate research on genetics of disorders of the nervous system. Furthermore, the control samples were specifically obtained so that they can be used for other genetic association studies in neurological disorders including stroke. Therefore, these data will not only be of use to PD researchers by also to other researchers outside the PD specialty.

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Andrew Singleton, Molecular Genetics Unit, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. T) +1 301 451 6079, F) +1 301 451 5466, E) singleta@mail.nih.gov

Brian Fiske, The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, Grand Central Station, PO Box 4777, New York, NY 10163, USA. T) +1-212-509-0995 ext. 203, F) +1-212-509-2390, E) bfiske@michaeljfox.org

Note to editors: *Single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs are DNA sequence variations that occur when a single nucleotide (A,T,C,or G) in the genome sequence is altered.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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