The Michael J. Fox Foundation recently provided funding to a Purdue-affiliated startup working to aid in less strenuous, early detection of Parkinson’s and other diseases. 

According to a Purdue press release, MJFF is one of the world’s leading organizations centered on the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease. The foundation paired with Tymora Analytical Operations to help provide funding for the company’s EVtrap approach to the detection and diagnosis of the disease. 

There is currently no particular test to diagnose Parkinson’s, and approaches used by doctors today are far from perfect, stated the release. Typically Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed once it has reached a later stage, at which point symptoms are already evident and the effectiveness of treatment is limited. 

The EVtrap approach Tymora is currently testing searches for specific biomarkers in fluid samples from patients. This approach evaluates the sample and searches for phosphoproteins and exosome proteins, molecules that often signal the presence of Parkinson's disease. With the aid of the funding from MJFF, scientists at Tymora plan to examine over 100 samples to identify certain proteins in Parkinson’s disease containing enzymatically-attached phosphate groups. 

“Because there is no specific test for Parkinson’s disease, doctors often review medical histories and perform neurological and physical examinations, which can often be inconclusive,” Anton Lliuk, the chief technology officer at Tymora Analytical Operations, said in the release. “Our approach uses a simple urine test, often already performed during regular exams, to look for biomarkers. Diagnosing Parkinson’s at an early stage with our method would give doctors a greater opportunity to successfully treat the condition.” 

W. Andy Tao, a professor in the College of Agriculture and member of the Center for Cancer Research, is the chief scientific officer at Tymora. He developed the majority of the company’s technology at Purdue and licensed the work through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization.

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