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2014 Funded Studies - McMillan
Biomarkers for Personalized Treatment of Neurodegenerative Spectrum Disease
Corey Thomas McMillan, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania
2014 Biomarkers Across Neurodegenerative Diseases Grant
Increasing evidence suggests that Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease may share common biological pathways and genetic risk factors. For instance, some genetic variations are associated with increased risk of both diseases, and many individuals diagnosed with one disease also exhibit symptoms or features of the other. Overall, the symptoms experienced by an individual generally fall along a spectrum and there can be overlap of disease features, particularly in the later stages.
Because each individual with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease may have different symptoms along the spectrum, future treatments may be able to be specifically customized for each individual. Similarly, approaches to prevent disease development and progression may need to be customized for each person to be most effective.
Corey Thomas McMillan, Ph.D., and colleagues have proposed studies aimed at integrating large amounts of information from an individual’s genetics, brain imaging, tests of cognitive and motor function, and measurement of biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord) to more precisely predict the origin and course of disease.
Dr. McMillan and colleagues will explore how genetic variations and alterations in cerebrospinal fluid markers may predict changes in brain structure and disease progression. A goal of this research is to determine which alterations are distinct to Alzheimer’s disease vs. Parkinson’s disease and which are shared by both diseases. The ultimate goal of this work is to develop a way to customize specific and effective treatments for each person based on factors identified in this research.