The Logan Lab was awarded access to the Fox Den through the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. The Den (Data Exploration Network) is a database hub for clinical data collected and aggregated through the Fox Insight study. The Fox Insight study has collected genetic information from more than 50,000 patients with Parkinson's disease as well as qualitative data such as the patient's medical history, behavioral patterns and exposures to environmental toxins. The Den also includes many other valuable pieces of de-identified patient information that can be correlated to genomic data. This past week, the Michael J. Fox Foundation and 23andMe partnered together to enhance the genetic data available in the Fox Insight study, which already included the largest cohort of Parkinson's disease research subjects to date.
The motivation for our upcoming work with this important data stems from the relatively recent observation that patients with neurodegeneration have a lower risk for developing cancer. Conversely, patients with cancer have a reduced risk for neurodegeneration. There is one notable exception to this trend, however. People with Parkinson's disease have an increased risk for melanoma and people with melanoma have an increased risk for Parkinson's disease. In an effort to understand the biological underpinnings of this relationship, Robert Logan has co-authored a paper with colleagues from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University that identified the melanoma-linked gene MC1R as being involved in dopaminergic neuron survival. As a result of our work, MC1R has been identified as a potential novel therapeutic avenue for Parkinson's disease.
The Logan Lab will analyze the genetic data from all 50,000 patients to explore any positive or negative correlative data between Parkinson's disease and other comorbidities. It is hoped that by uncovering new epidemiological findings between risk for PD and other diseases, we might then be able to go on to discover new biological pathways to be targeted for novel therapeutics. Furthermore, we will look at correlations between genes looking for SNPs and other gene markers that could hint at larger, complex biological pathways involved in PD etiology. If you would like to make a financial donation to our important work, please see the "Donate" navigation tab on our website.