Researchers Sharing Information to Find Alzheimer"s and Parkinson"s Cures
With both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's studies, researchers have agreed to share all data, making any findings immediately available to the public. This is in stark contrast to typical research projects in the medical field: because they are often sponsored by drug companies looking to find a proprietary drug from which they can make a fortune, data from research is rarely shared in their preliminary stages. Much more data becomes available about the drug studies when the company needs to seek Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
Researchers looking for cures for both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's are looking for "biomarkers" which could unlock the key to how patients develop these debilitating diseases. The Michael J. Fox Foundation is sponsoring a $40 mil. Parkinson's biomarker study.
"It's not science the way most of us have practiced it in our careers. But we also realized that we would never get biomarkers unless all of us parked our egos and intellectual-property noses at the door and agreed that all of our data would be public immediately," Dr. John Q. Trojanowski, an Alzheimer's researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, told the NYT reporter.
The National Institute of Health is now becoming a giant repository of data and is acting as a broker between academia and the pharmaceutical industry. There have been more than 3,200 downloads of the complete dataset from their website, and almost a million downloads of datasets containing images of the brain. This kind of collaborative research is unprecedented. I am actively involved in trying to raise money for Alzheimer's Research via the Alzheimer's Association's Memory Walk in Monterey, and this article gave me hope that a cure is not as far off as many might think.