Population Diagnostics Receives NIH Grant for Parkinson’s Disease Study
News May 20, 2010
Population Diagnostics, Inc. (PDx) announced that it has been awarded a federal grant to identify the genetic causes of Parkinson’s Disease. Funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the National Institutes of Health, the project is being led by Eli Hatchwell, MD, PhD, an Associate Professor at Stony Brook University Medical Center and a co-founder of PDx.
“Parkinson’s Disease is a heterogeneous disorder, meaning that it is actually many diseases masquerading as one general set of symptoms,” said Jim Chinitz, Population Diagnostics’ Chief Executive. “Historically, Parkinson’s patients have been lumped together as a diagnosis based on clinical observations, but there may actually be dozens of subtypes of Parkinson’s that can be delineated as genetic subgroups. This grant will allow us to systematically reveal the genes that harbor disease-causing mutations for Parkinson’s Disease.”
Breakthroughs in the genetic and therapeutic research fields of Parkinson’s Disease have been stymied because the search for its genetic causes have mistakenly relied on the predication that this disease is mainly caused by “common” genetic variants (the “Common Disease / Common Variant” hypothesis). This theory meant that a common set of mutations would cause Parkinson’s and in aggregate explain why the Parkinson’s patient population may experience symptoms differently (for example, age of onset, severity, etc.). Genomic scientists are now beginning to acknowledge that the Common Disease / Common Variant hypothesis and the related methodology behind discovering common variants is flawed.
In contrast, Population Diagnostics’ gene discovery platform stems from the company’s understanding that common complex diseases, such as Parkinson’s Disease, will ultimately be classified by a collection of rare variants within multiple genes. Each rare variant will be capable of independently causing the common set of symptoms that currently define a Parkinson’s diagnosis.
Population Diagnostics has developed its patented gene discovery methods based on the Common Disease / Rare Variant hypothesis. Recent discoveries of rare causative variants that have a severe effect in other common diseases such as autism and schizophrenia, support Population Diagnostics’ strategy.