Can we predict Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that leads to tremors, stiffness and difficulty with walking, as it can affect balance and coordination. Parkinson’s has more than 40 symptoms, both motor and non-motor, which usually begin gradually and get worse over time.
Every hour, two more people are diagnosed. That’s the same as 18,000 people every year. 1 in 37 people alive today will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s in their lifetime. That’s about 145,000 in the UK.
Parkinson’s is the fastest-growing neurological condition in the world, but there is currently no cure. There is no definitive diagnostic test and we don’t yet know why people get the condition.
Aim of the study
PREDICT-PD is a large research project which has been recruiting through Join Dementia Research since 2019 and aims to recruit 10,000 participants. It hopes to identify people at high risk of Parkinson’s before the symptoms appear.
Researchers at Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL) and University College London are looking for healthy volunteers to take part in a simple set of online tests that screen for factors linked to increased risk of Parkinson’s.
Current research suggests that problems including loss of smell, sleep problems, constipation, anxiety and depression may occur many years before the movement problems of Parkinson’s appear.
The PREDICT-PD team believes that if predictions can be made regarding who is going to get Parkinson’s, treatments may become available for those in the early stages.
This could slow or prevent the condition from progressing – which would be a major step forwards towards a cure. It could also have huge knock-on implications for dementia and other age-related conditions of the brain.
What do participants have to do if they choose to take part?
Participants will need to register online. Following this, they will be asked to complete an online questionnaire that collects information on medical and lifestyle factors that may influence the risk of Parkinson’s. This will take around 30 minutes to complete.
Next, participants will be asked to take a couple of tests: the keyboard tap test which measures the accuracy and speed of movement in people’s arms, and a test that asks users to connect 25 dots both quickly and accurately.
Benefits of taking part
Principle Investigator Doctor Alastair Noyce, QMUL says,
“Through taking part in the PREDICT-PD, participants are taking part in a significant study which will help the team understand more about the precursors to Parkinson’s. This information will hopefully lead to ways of diagnosing Parkinson’s at the earliest possible stage.
“People can take part in this research from the comfort of their own home, so we would encourage those who are eligible to register today!”
Who can take part?
To take part in PREDICT-PD, participants must be UK residents aged between 60-80 and must not have Parkinson’s, other movement disorders or dementia. They will also need internet access and be able to give informed consent via online processes.
The study is open until April 2025 and is funded by Parkinson’s UK.