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New Australian study aims to crack the genetic code of Parkinson’s disease

Researchers at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, with funding from the Shake It Up Australia Foundation and The Michael J. Fox Foundation, are undertaking ground-breaking research to help identify genetic factors influencing risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. This research, named the Australian Parkinson’s Genetics Study (APGS), will contribute towards the largest study of Parkinson’s genetics ever undertaken, the Global Parkinson’s Genetics Program (GP2).

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurological condition in Australia but remains one of the least understood in terms of its cause. 1 Over 100,000 Australians are living with Parkinson’s disease which has a total financial cost to the economy per annum of over $775.4 million. 1

The APGS aims to crack the genetic code of Parkinson’s by helping to identify the hundreds of genetic variants that influence a person’s risk of developing the condition and its various symptoms. Understanding how genes are implicated in the disease process can provide insights and revolutionise future research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of the illness and its progression, and enable the development of new, and more effective, and more personalised treatments for the disease.

However, this revolutionary study will only be possible with the participation of thousands of real patients. The APGS researchers aim to recruit 10,000 Australian residents (male or female) who have been diagnosed with, and medically treated for, Parkinson’s disease. Study participants will be showing generosity and solidarity in supporting others living with this disease and will be making a genuine contribution to the future diagnosis, management, and treatment of the condition.

CEO of Shake It Up Australia Foundation and living with Parkinson’s himself, Clyde Campbell, says:

“With so much to discover about the disease and its progression, this opens us up to so many possibilities. We are truly on the edge of a potential medical breakthrough in our lifetime, which could change the face of the disease. To make that possible though, we need those living with Parkinson’s to sign up so we can understand its complexities. Let’s crack this genetic code so we can make a difference to what living with Parkinson’s looks like in the future.”

Lead researcher from QIMR Berghofer, Professor Nick Martin, says:

“Medical breakthroughs often require years of dedicated research and tend to rely strongly on the availability of accurate, real-patient data. The APGS has the potential to do this if we have the participants. It’s easy to participate from the comfort of your own home, and only requires around 25 minutes of your time through the donation of a saliva sample and completion of a questionnaire. If you’re eligible, we encourage you to join.”

Participation in the study is strictly confidential and all participant information provided will be maintained in accordance with Australian regulations.

Eligible people are now able to participate in the study. To sign up to the Australian Parkinson’s Genetic Study, or to find out more information, visit

  1. Deloitte Access Economics, Living with Parkinson’s Disease 2011