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Berg, Parkinson’s Institute Announce Study Focused on Biomarker Discovery

Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014
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Third phase of collaboration aims to unravel mysteries of disease by identifying disease markers and potential new drug targets.

Berg and the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center announce the next phase in their ongoing partnership, focused on identifying potential biomarkers that may lead to breakthroughs in the research, diagnosis, and treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Using Berg’s Interrogative Biology™ platform to analyze multi-omic tissue samples (skin fibroblasts, blood, urine) supplied by the Parkinson’s Institute, this collaboration will identify the differences between healthy and diseased tissues in an effort to unravel the mysteries of Parkinson’s disease. Berg and the Parkinson’s Institute together are the first teams to approach biomarker discovery by looking at proteomics, metabolomics, and lipidomics, in addition to clinical data, simultaneously in human patients and controls from the same cohort.

The new clinical study launched at the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center will collect urine, blood, and other relevant tissue samples from people living with Parkinson’s disease. These materials will be used to validate biomarker candidates identified previously from the collaboration. Most importantly, this will represent a first in merging patients’ molecular and clinical information to develop profiles that will drive the development of biomarkers.

Berg is a biopharmaceutical company committed to uncovering health solutions through a data-driven, biological research approach. The Parkinson’s Institute is America’s only independent, non-profit organization that brings together world-class care, laboratory research, clinical research, and clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease under one roof.

“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,” said Niven R. Narain, Co-Founder, President and Chief Technology Officer of Berg. “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.”

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive movement-related disorder of the central nervous system. It is estimated that there are approximately one million Americans living with Parkinson’s. Each year, 50,000 new cases are diagnosed, and this rate is expected to rise with the aging baby boomer population. A clear understanding of Parkinson’s and its underlying pathophysiology continues to be elusive as a result of the disease’s complexity and a lack of predictive capability among existing models.

The expectation for this partnership is that it will help lead to a greater understanding of Parkinson’s disease and the development of new tools that can change its course.

“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, ” said Birgitt Schuele, MD, Director of Gene Discovery and Stem Cell Modeling at the Parkinson’s Institute. “This collaboration is very exciting. Our discoveries have the potential to change the way we think about and approach Parkinson’s disease.”

One fundamental and defining contribution of the Berg-Parkinson’s Institute collaboration will be to provide hallmark insights into disease pathophysiology.

“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,” said 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.”

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