The National Centre of Excellence in Research (NCER) on Parkinson’s Disease is seeking participants to take part in a large research study in Luxembourg. The researchers leading the study hope to involve all Parkinson’s patients in the Luxembourg greater region, as well members of the general public who are not affected by the disease.
The aim of the 8-year NCER programme is to identify new methods for the early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and the stratification of patients in sub-groups.
The Parkinson’s disease research centre is the first National Centre of Excellence in Research (NCER) of the FNR – and the long-term study is the largest of its kind in Luxembourg. The study brings Luxembourg to the forefront of research into Parkinson’s disease, and, for the first time, diverse national research actors have come together to utilise all of their experience and knowledge to understand the disease.
A research programme with a direct impact for patients
What does this initiative mean for patients? Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease of the brain and it is likely that an increased number of people will suffer from it in the coming years due to the ageing of the population. It is estimated around 1,000 people in Luxembourg are living with Parkinson’s.
A major problem with Parkinson’s disease is that it is usually diagnosed in patients when the disease has already progressed significantly. If there were methods for an earlier detection, doctors could treat patients with protective therapies and thereby increase the patients’ quality of life. Why people become ill, and whether the disease will progress fast or slowly, is also difficult to predict.
In order to understand all this better, a central objective of the Parkinson’s disease research centre is the long-term clinical study with Parkinson’s disease patients from Luxembourg and neighbouring countries as well as healthy control subjects.
The main focus of the study is to compare the results from clinical tests and specific laboratory measurements (i.e. metabolic products or genetic information) from patients and healthy controls. This may lead to the identification of new methods for the diagnosis and stratification of the disease.
Participants decide their own level of involvement
The team of researchers leading the study hope to involve all Parkinson’s patients in the greater Luxembourg region in the study, as this would help provide them with a rounded picture of the disease. Healthy controls – people not affected by Parkinson’s – are also needed, so that test results can be compared.
The researchers suspect that Parkinson’s also affects the body’s metabolism, and that this can have an effect on the body’s fluids.
To help the researchers study this, all participants are asked to provide saliva, blood and urine samples. Participants who wish to be more involved can additionally provide stool samples.
Any samples provided are stored at the IBBL (Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg), where they are also frozen so the researchers can analyse the samples again in the future, as methods and technology evolves.
All the results from the clinical tests are fed to the fundamental research part of the study, taking place at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biology (LCSB) at the University of Luxembourg. The results provide important genetic information and when all the data is combined, the researchers are able to create a kind of map of the metabolism processes of the patients – spotting new connections which may previously not have been known. In addition, the researchers are looking at whether nutrition could play a role in the onset and/or development of the disease.
How to get involved
All details about how to get involved can be found on the dedicated website www.parkinson.lu
About the National Centre of Excellence in Research (NCER)
In February 2015, the FNR approved the funding for the NCER programme: 8 million Euros have been allocated for a first phase of 4 years; the total budget estimated for the 8-year programme amounts to 20 million Euros.
- The University of Luxembourg with the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB);
- The Institute IBBL (Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg);
- The Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL).
Their common goal is to continue to integrate research into the national health system and to establish Luxembourg as an excellence centre in research on Parkinson’s disease beyond the country’s borders.