The Luxembourg Parkinson’s Study enables researchers and clinicians to gain new insights into the disease and to develop new therapeutical approaches. More than 1,600 residents of the Greater Region are currently participating in the study, allowing to generate a reliable picture of the various manifestations of Parkinson’s disease.
During the following months, we will highlight individual aspects of this comprehensive study by introducing selected publications of the last years.
In our first article, we summarize a publication about the set-up of the Luxembourg Parkinson’s Study which involves researchers and health professionals from various disciplines. It had been published in the scientific journal “Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience” in October 2018 and can serve as a blueprint for researchers in other countries on how to build a Parkinson’s cohort based on the Luxembourg model.
Understanding the complexity of Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s disease can express itself in various different forms. Whereas around 15 % of all cases are currently related to the genetic background of patients, the reason for the disease remains unclear in the remaining 85 %. Several factors may play a role including age and environmental influence. Similarly, the symptoms of Parkinson’s often also differ a lot from one patient to another. Commonly, motor-symptoms such as tremor, slowdown of movement, stiffness of muscles or postural instability can occur. However, also several other symptoms such as vision, swallowing and digestion problems may be an effect of Parkinson’s.
Due to this complex appearance of the disease, it is also challenging to identify biomarkers which allow an early diagnosis to start a treatment as soon as possible. By collecting various patient samples (amongst others: blood, urine, saliva, stool and skin), the Luxembourg Parkinson’s Study does not only characterise the patient profiles but also aims to identify common biomarkers among subgroups of affected people to improve diagnostic methods.
Observation of patients over time provides deeper insights
Another key characteristic of the study is its longitudinal design. This means that in certain time intervals, the participants are invited for a follow-up visit. This way, researchers can determine which molecular factors and symptoms changed over the course of time. Additionally, continuous sensor-based measurements of patient’s gait and periodic questionnaires help to follow the development of the disease on an individual basis. All data are analysed and processed in an anonymized manner using bioinformatic tools developed at the University’s Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) specifically tailored to the requirements of the study.
Thanks to the large number of currently more than 1,600 participants in the study, scientists can obtain profound results in their investigations. Importantly, not only patients but also people of the same age but without a diagnosis of Parkinson’s are included in the study as a control group. Those individuals are likewise asked to provide samples for molecular analysis. This allows to specifically pinpoint the differences compared to Parkinson’s patient from which subsequently potential risk factors or biomarkers may be inferred.
Patient can directly benefit from the study
As patients are closely monitored throughout the study, they can directly benefit from new insights resulting from the study. New therapeutic approaches from the study can be discussed with the responsible clinician to improve the individual quality of life. In addition, the NCER-PD team provides a broad variety of information material, where more information on particular aspects of the disease is given. The scope is not only to provide patients with useful and practical information, but also to raise general awareness in the population and inform the public about Parkinson’s disease in general. To reach the broadest audience possible, the communication about the study is conducted in French, English, Luxemburgish, German and Portuguese. Further information and free download material such as the fact sheets can be found here.
- Hipp, G., Vaillant, M., Diederich, N. J., Roomp, K., Satagopam, V. P., Banda, P., Sandt, E., Mommaerts, K., Schmitz, S. K., Longhino, L., Schweicher, A., Hanff, A. M., Nicolai, B., Kolber, P., Reiter, D., Pavelka, L., Binck, S., Pauly, C., Geffers, L., Betsou, F., Gantenbein, M., Klucken, J., Gasser, T., Hu, M. T., Balling, R., Krüger, R. (2018). The Luxembourg Parkinson's Study: A Comprehensive Approach for Stratification and Early Diagnosis. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 10, p 326. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2018.00326
- Orbilu: http://hdl.handle.net/10993/37739