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May 26, 2015 4:42 pm

Michael J. Fox Foundation Seeking Volunteers for Study on Parkinson’s and Ashkenazi Jews

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is studying the connection between Parkinson's disease and Ashkenazi ancestry. Photo: Twitter,

The Michael J. Fox Foundation, a major charity dedicated to finding a cure to Parkinson’s disease, announced on Sunday that it is seeking volunteers to participate in a study on the connection between Parkinson’s and genes carried by Jews of Eastern European ancestry, commonly known as Ashkenazi Jews.

“The Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) is the… foundation’s flagship biomarkers study seeking to learn more about the genetics of Parkinson’s disease,” the group says on its website. “PPMI is currently studying the connection between Parkinson’s and having a mutation in either the LRRK2 or GBA gene — both are promising targets of PD research.”

PPMI said it is looking for individuals for genetic testing who have Parkinson’s and who are from Ashkenazi, North African Berber, or Basque ancestry; or who are related to someone with PD and who are of Ashkenazi, North African Berber, or Basque ancestry.

Studying those with Parkinson’s and their families is essential in the efforts to identify genetic markers that contribute to the onset and progression of the disease, the foundation’s says on its website. Over the past decade, studying the genetics of Parkinson’s has advanced the pursuit of a “disease-modifying” treatment that can slow or stop the progression of the disease.

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