Parkinson’s Awareness Month

During Parkinson’s Awareness Month, we’ll be highlighting promising research and new findings in the fight against Parkinson’s. Along the way we hope to boost enrollment in 23andMe’s Parkinson’s Research Community past 7,500 people, getting us that much closer to our ultimate goal of 10,000 people in the community. Enroll and you’ll be in good company — boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who has Parkinson’s, recently joined 23andMe’s fight against the disease. In the coming weeks we’ll be writing about the state of the science in Parkinson’s research, we’ll roll out surprising associations between the disease and certain traits, as well as hear from fascinating people living with the disease. All this is not just to draw attention to genetic research, but also to remind people what it means to live with Parkinson’s. Each year there are more than 50,000 cases of Parkinson’s diagnosed, adding to the more than one million people living with the disease in the United States. Worldwide there are an estimated four to six million people with Parkinson’s, but taking action now to find a cause and cure for the disease could help not just those with the disease but people who may develop Parkinson’s in the future.
Don’t Have Parkinson’s? Even if you don’t have Parkinson’s you can help simply by becoming a customer at 23andMe who consents to research and completes surveys. It’s as easy as that. Recently our scientists found a genetic variant that appears to be protective against Parkinson’s, a discovery that wouldn’t have been possible without participation from people who don’t have the disease. Plus, you can learn about your own health and ancestry through the 23andMe Personal Genome Service ®.
Together with our Parkinson’s Research Community, and our partners like The Michael J. Fox Foundation, The Parkinson’s Institute and The National Parkinson Foundation, 23andMe has already made some promising findings. We’ve discovered new genetic associations, replicated 20 other known associations and found a genetic variant that may be protective against the disease – all that in just a year’s time. This is just the beginning. As Senator Debbie Stabenow, the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Parkinson’s Disease, said when the Senate passed a resolution making April “Parkinson’s Awareness Month,” the focus in the coming weeks is meant to “honor those who live with Parkinson’s and encourage those conducting the medical research that could hold the key to new breakthrough treatments.” You can help. If you have Parkinson’s disease please join the 23andMe Parkinson’s Research Community and participate in research that will help speed discoveries. If you know someone with Parkinson’s, let him or her know what we’re doing. Participation is free and you could play a role in making breakthroughs that help you and others with Parkinson’s. There’s also the fun of being part of the broader 23andMe Community, where you can explore your genetics and ancestry.
  • I have had three relatives die recently of Parkinsonisms; a brother died of multiple systems atrophy. a cousin died of Lewy Body Dementia; and another cousin died of progressive supranuclear palsy. I myself have Parkinsons. I have talked with varioius professionals, and yet have found no new answers as to whether their is any genetic research that has made a connection between these four diseases. What has 23 and Me discovered, if anything?

    • Hi Robert,

      Thank you for reading and for your interesting question. Because 23andMe is focusing on Parkinson’s disease and is only recruiting participants with Parkinson’s, we don’t have the ability yet to examine the possible genetic relationships between this group of diseases. However, there is some consensus in the field that many neurodegenerative disorders are related and some of the same genes may be involved. For example, the MAPT gene encoding the tau protein appears to influence both Parkinson’s and progressive supranuclear palsy, which also have very similar symptoms. (We write more about these two diseases here.)

      In general, the field recognizes there is overlap between the diseases but the details are still unclear. We do think it’s important to learn whether there are shared biological mechanisms underlying these diseases as it may provide some interesting avenues for treatments.

  • i have had parkinson’s for 10years. i find the article to be interesting.

  • Ben. Lucke

    I suffer the dreadful Parkinson Disease for about 5 years
    And I hope with all the research there is an light at the end of the tunnel,for us.

    There is also a big National Conference in Brisbane Australia on the 13th & 14 July 2012
    all about Parkinson Disease
    Lets hope something GOED comes out of the Conference

    Yours Ben

  • Teresa Mills


    I want to become part of your effort, but cannot find the web site which details participation. Please send me this information and any other details on your organization. I have had Parkinson’s for approximately 15 years and am 70 years of age.

    Thank You

  • reeta sharma

    Hunter Neurology is a leading-edge medical practice specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of a range of conditions affecting the brain, spine, and nerves.