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MDS 2021 | International efforts to understand the genetic basis of Parkinson’s disease

Ignacio Mata, PhD, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, talks on global collaborative genetic studies of Parkinson’s disease (PD) aiming to address the lack of underrepresented populations included in PD studies to date. Several initiatives have been set up across the world, including LARGE-PD (The Latin American Research consortium on the GEnetics of Parkinson’s Disease), GEoPD, and iPDGC (The International Parkinson Disease Genomics Consortium) East Asian and African projects. Dr Mata comments on the Global Parkinson’s Genetic Program (GP2), which aims to bring data from all these projects together to genotype over 150,000 volunteers from across the world, improving our understanding of the genetic basis of disease. This interview took place during the 2021 International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders.

Transcript (edited for clarity)

There’s quite a few initiatives going on. There’s a couple of old ones. One is the one that we’ve been doing in Latin America, LARGE-PD, which has been going on since 2006. There’s also GEoPD, which started in 2006, I think, or 2005 too. So those are probably the two oldest ones. But then, slowly there’s been other initiatives in Asia and Africa that are trying to again represent populations that have not been well studied before...

There’s quite a few initiatives going on. There’s a couple of old ones. One is the one that we’ve been doing in Latin America, LARGE-PD, which has been going on since 2006. There’s also GEoPD, which started in 2006, I think, or 2005 too. So those are probably the two oldest ones. But then, slowly there’s been other initiatives in Asia and Africa that are trying to again represent populations that have not been well studied before. And I think the problem is that we have many people in different parts of the world trying to do similar things, but not working together. So, the Global Parkinson’s Genetic Program, or GP2, which is a initiative from the Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s, really is trying to bring all those together and give the necessary resources to kind of make sure that all populations are represented, but also all the needs in local research is met.

So, we want to make sure that local researchers in all these areas learn how to do analysis, understand about research. They do quality research, they collect similar data across populations. So, then in two or three years, when we have all this data… And they’re all also being genotype under the same array. So, in two or three years, we’ll have a really incredible data set worldwide that we can use to, again, answer questions like what kind of genetic predispositions each of the populations have? Also are there environmental factors that might be also influencing? Do people in different populations present different forms of the disease? Because that’s another thing that’s not as much a genetic question, although genetics could be part of it, but we think that Parkinson’s might look a little bit different in different regions of the world. And I think by capturing the same data on everybody we’ll be able to answer some of these questions, and then kind of tie it to the genetics, the environment and try to understand why that is.

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