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Funded Studies

Validation of Blood-borne Autoantibody Biomarkers for Parkinson’s Disease Supplement

Promising Outcomes of Original Grant:
The purpose of the original study was to determine if a small group of selected blood-borne autoantibody biomarkers that were previously shown to be effective in diagnosing mild-moderate Parkinson’s disease (PD) could also be used to detect and diagnose early-stage PD using serum samples obtained from the DATATOP collection. Results revealed that, although some of the same biomarkers were useful, a new panel of autoantibody biomarkers was found to be much more efficacious, allowing detection and diagnosis of early-stage PD with greater than 90 percent overall accuracy. These findings raise the possibility that this approach may also be useful for monitoring the progression of PD through different clinical stages.

Objectives for Supplemental Investigation:
The next phase in the development of a diagnostic test for PD requires a larger-scale validation and optimization study of the autoantibody biomarkers found to be useful for the detection and diagnosis of early-stage PD as well as mild-moderate PD. Additional serum samples from the DATATOP collection, representing patients with early-stage PD, as well as sera taken from patients with mild-moderate PD, will be analyzed to confirm and fine-tune the selection of autoantibody biomarkers that are best able to identify patients at these distinct stages of PD progression.

Importance of This Research for the Development of a New PD Therapy
The development of a non-invasive, accurate blood test for diagnosis of early-stage PD has great potential for routine use as a diagnostic test in the clinical setting as well as in clinical trials aimed at developing new therapeutics. A diagnostic test that can identify the different clinical stages of PD will enable physicians to monitor a patient’s disease course and determine the rate of PD progression, which is useful information for physicians and their patients as well as for those enrolled in clinical trials of new PD drugs. Lastly, this diagnostic approach may also provide a means to assess drug efficacy, since any therapies that are effective in resolving PD should be accompanied by a corresponding reduction in the relative amounts of PD-specific autoantibody biomarkers in the patient’s blood.

Final Outcome

We have recently discovered that the blood contains thousands of different types of proteins called autoantibodies, and that the job of these autoantibodies is to keep the blood clear of debris that is inevitably generated when one has a disease. Since each disease (including Parkinson’s disease) generates a specific type of debris, the autoantibodies that appear in the blood to clear this debris are also specific to the disease. Our goal was to identify Parkinson’s disease-specific autoantibodies in the blood and see if these autoantibodies can be used as biomarkers that can accurately detect early-stage Parkinson’s disease in patients. Our results showed that it is possible to use a small panel of autoantibodies to detect (and therefore to diagnose) very early stage Parkinson’s disease with high accuracy using only a single drop of blood. This exciting result is a first step in developing a simple and accurate blood test for Parkinson’s disease. Not only will it allow new patients to take full advantage of available therapies for Parkinson’s disease, but it may also allow physicians to monitor the progression or advancement of the disease in patients while they are being treated.

March 2014


  • Robert G. Nagele, PhD

    New Brunswick, NJ United States

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