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Predict-PD study to identify those at high risk of PD before symptoms appear

The study aims to improve the representation of ethnic diversity within Parkinson’s research.

A study led by researchers at Queen Mary University and University College London aims to identify those at high risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD) before symptoms appear and understand the risk factors for the condition.

Funded by Parkinson’s UK, the Predict-PD study exceeded its milestone of 10,000 participants, which is representative of the ethnic diversity within the UK.

Findings from the study aim to improve understandings of the early signs and symptoms of the condition to help search for new and better treatments.

Affecting around 145,000 people in the UK, PD is a progressive neurological condition that affects the brain, causing symptoms such as shaking and stiffness.

Currently, ethnic diversity is a challenge seen in PD research in the UK, Europe and North America, leaving a large majority of people from minority backgrounds underrepresented.

Since 2020, research technology company uMed has helped to enrol over 7,000 participants in the study through its network of over 500 primary care provider groups representing five million patients in the UK.

In total, the company rapidly engaged with 36,269 patients via text message on behalf of the patients’ healthcare providers, increasing the ethnic diversity within the study from 3% to 10%.

All participants filled out an online questionnaire covering their medical history and some have been asked to test their sense of smell and provide other samples, including blood or saliva.

Based on their results, participants can be invited to take part in other studies relevant to them.

Throughout the study, researchers will continuously monitor participants’ health to determine who within the general population may be at higher risk of developing PD compared to others.

Dr Katherine Fletcher, research communications lead, Parkinson’s UK, said: “Having a wider pool of the UK population involved in clinical trials means we can ultimately learn more about the progression of Parkinson’s…, speed up diagnosis and access to new and better treatments for all” and help “researchers… improve their studies [by making] them more representative”.