Berg, Parkinson's Institute to pursue Parkinson's disease biomarkers

This work builds on the organizations' existing partnership, and will focus on a multi-omics approach

Kelsey Kaustinen
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FRAMINGHAM, Mass.—Berg and the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center have announced a new development in their partnership, in which the two organizations will seek to identify biomarkers with the potential to aid in the research, diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
 
“This partnership harnesses the exceptional clinical expertise and superior research resources of the Parkinson’s Institute, along with Berg’s unique ability to integrate patient-specific molecular data with clinical and demographic information,” Niven R. Narain, co-Founder, president and chief technology officer at Berg, said in a press release. “This new and exciting phase of our collaboration has the potential to create a number of game-changing innovations to better diagnose and manage Parkinson’s disease.”
 
Berg’s Interrogative Biology platform will be used to analyze multi-omic tissue samples—such as skin fibroblasts, blood and urine—supplied by the Parkinson’s Institute in hopes of pinpointing differences between healthy and diseased tissues. A new clinical study initiated at the Parkinson’s Institute will collect urine, blood and other tissue samples from Parkinson’s patients, and the samples will be used to validate biomarker candidates previously discovered in the collaboration. The two organizations are pursuing biomarkers through the study of proteomics, metabolomics and lipidomics, as well as clinical data, in both patients and healthy controls. Berg’s Interrogative Biology platform combines molecular data from patients with clinical and demographic information in order to learn predictive pathways, combining systems biology with systems engineering.
 
“Through our collaboration with Berg, we hope to identify predictors for the disease and potential new drug targets. Armed with this information, we will be able to better diagnose and develop therapies that can treat and perhaps even halt the neurological damage caused by Parkinson’s, ” Birgitt Schuele, M.D., director of Gene Discovery and Stem Cell Modeling at the Parkinson’s Institute, commented in a statement. “This collaboration is very exciting. Our discoveries have the potential to change the way we think about and approach Parkinson’s disease.”
 
“With diseases like cancer and diabetes, we at least have a foundational map and understanding of their pathways. Our challenge with most central nervous system (CNS) diseases is that there is a gross lack of understanding of the molecular pathways and drivers of disease pathophysiology. The anchor points are just not as clear as they are with other disease states,” noted Paula P. Narain, CNS Disease Program lead at Berg. “This collaboration will lead to insights into disease mechanisms that will provide a solid foundation for biomarker and therapeutic candidate discovery. Berg is confident that the combination of tissue samples and expertise from the Parkinson’s Institute, together with our award-winning Interrogative Biology platform, will usher in a paradigm shift in Parkinson’s disease.”
 
Some 1.5 million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s disease, according to the Parkinson’s Institute, with approximately 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year. the disease results when the brain cells responsible for producing dopamine cease to function properly, and the lack of dopamine, a chemical messenger that transmits signals necessary for voluntary movement, results in the loss of motor control the disease is known for.
 
 
SOURCE: Parkinson’s Institute press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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