Though documented as long ago as the early 1800s, medical breakthroughs in Parkinson’s disease research have been slow in coming. That’s why PatientsLikeMe continues to get involved in the research process. With our new genetics engine for Parkinson’s disease, patients now have a way to share information about their genetics and find others with the same genetics as them. As part of our commitment to supporting genetics discovery, PatientsLikeMe recently partnered with 23andMe, aiding them in their research effort to get 10,000 Parkinson’s patients for a groundbreaking research study.
Most of the time, people don’t know what causes their Parkinson’s disease. It could be due to genetic factors we haven’t identified yet, environmental exposures, or maybe even something else completely. However, there are some known genetic causes of Parkinson’s disease. Sometimes different genetic mutations have different disease characteristics, so there’s some benefit to knowing what mutation you may have. For example, different genetic mutations can result in an earlier or later onset for Parkinson’s disease, some have a milder or more severe disease course, and others have a higher or lower chance of dementia. Knowing your genetic status could help you plan ahead, especially if you have a strong family history of the disease.
The 23andMe kit tests for one genetic mutation that can cause Parkinson’s disease – LRRK2 G2019S. The chances of having this mutation vary with your ethnicity, and not everyone with the mutation will get Parkinson’s disease. However, some studies claim that LRRK2 G2019S is responsible for about 5-6% of all familial cases of Parkinson’s Disease and 1% of sporadic (randomly occurring) cases of Parkinson’s disease.
We are working to include as much meaningful genetics information in the PatientsLikeMe Parkinson’s community so that you can make the best decisions collaboratively. For those PatiensLikeMe Parkinson’s community members taking advantage of the 23andMe offer, we encourage you to upload your genetic information on your PatientsLikeMe profile so we can continue to expand our understanding of genetics and Parkinson’s in the context of individual patients. If you go to your 23andMe account and find that you have the LRRK2 G2019S mutation, you can add it to your PatientsLikeMe diagnosis history. Once you have entered your genetics to your profile, you will be “findable” by other “patients like you” with the same genetics. The PatientsLikeMe research team is excited about learning more about Parkinson’s with your help. Sharing information will help us all learn as much as we can about the disease.