The Gardner-McMaster Parkinson Center at The University of Toledo Medical Center placed second in a competition against 23 other Parkinson centers across the United States and Canada.
The goal of the three-month competition, hosted by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, was to enroll the most volunteers into the Fox Trial Finder, which matches patients and age-matched controls with clinical trials examining new potential treatments for Parkinson’s disease. The competition added more than 1,400 new volunteers — 505 of them coming from UTMC.
“Getting as many Fox Trial Finder volunteers as possible ensures that when a new study starts, researchers have a well-characterized database at their fingertips to pre-screen people who are primed to participate in research,” said Claire Meunier, director of research partnerships at the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Volunteers in the Fox Trial Finder system consist of more than 27,500 patients with Parkinson’s disease and control participants without the degenerative disorder. Clinical trials remain one of the most crucial steps on the path to developing better treatments for Parkinson’s patients; however, finding people to participate in these studies often can be difficult.
When participants can’t be found, it delays the completion of the study — which could postpone possible approval of new experimental treatments by months or years. The Fox Trial Finder works to match people with Parkinson’s to studies they are appropriate to participate in, speeding the whole research development and approval process.
“For years, one of the major challenges facing clinical research in Parkinson’s disease was the need for an efficient and effective way to identify and recruit potential clinical trial candidates,” said Dr. Lawrence Elmer, director of the UT Gardner-McMaster Parkinson Center. “Fox Trial Finder is certain to benefit patients and their families, but most importantly, advance breakthroughs in the treatment and cure of Parkinson’s disease far more rapidly than any of us could have ever imagined.”
The University of Colorado Hospital Movement Disorders Center in Denver won first place in the competition, referring 563 volunteers.
Next month, patients in the greater Toledo area with Parkinson’s disease and their families can get the latest information about research and treatments at the 17th Annual Parkinson’s Disease Symposium. In honor of the second-place performance of the UTMC group, Michael J. Fox representatives will be in attendance, and the Fox Foundation will co-sponsor the day’s activities.
In addition, Dr. Brian Fiske, vice president for research programs at the Michael J. Fox Foundation, will be the featured speaker.
The event, presented by the Gardner-McMaster Parkinson Center and Parkinson Foundation of Northwest Ohio, will take place Saturday, April 5, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Parkway Place, 2592 Parkway Plaza in Maumee.