Research team creates largest international cohort of people with Parkinson’s-linked variants

By Michelle Jaffee

doctor matthew Farrer smiles at the camera in a nondescript, bright room
Dr. Matthew Farrer

A multi-continental team of researchers including University of Florida neurogeneticist Matthew Farrer, Ph.D., has established the largest worldwide cohort of affected and unaffected people carrying Parkinson’s disease-linked genetic variants, a step toward future gene-targeted clinical trials.

The 170-member Michael J. Fox Foundation Global Genetic Study Group, led by Christine Klein, M.D., of the University of Lübeck in Germany, describes the cohort in the latest issue of the journal Movement Disorders. The new database, called The Michael J. Fox Foundation Global Genetic PD Cohort, will be available via the Global Parkinson’s Genetics Program upon ethical and legal approvals.

Although Parkinson’s is generally not considered a hereditary disorder, the percentage of patients with a genetic cause is estimated at 10% worldwide, or 650,000 people, according to the new paper. Accounting for genetic subtypes opens the door to advancing understanding and designing new clinical trials.

Read the paper in Movement Disorders.