Using DNA methylation biomarkers to understand Parkinson’s disease severity and progression

Theme Translational data science

Workstream Omics for prediction and prognosis

Status: This project is ongoing

The Biogen Tel Aviv Parkinson Project (BeatPD) looks in-depth at clinical and genetic information on Parkinson’s disease among people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.  

The study team has collected data on long-term Parkinson’s disease severity and outcomes. They have also looked at cellular and DNA changes in participants’ blood, including genetics, and DNA methylation (DNAm – a chemical process that takes regulates gene activity), amongst others.  

The BeatPD project originally focussed on factors like age at diagnosis and particular genetic mutations which are common in this group of people.  

We are working with the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU) at the University of Bristol and Biogen to expand the aims of the original BeatPD project. We want to evaluate whether DNAm has a role as a biomarker for Parkinson’s disease severity and progression. We also want to use machine learning to help identify potential biomarkers. 


With this collaboration, we want to: 

  1. Identify DNAm patterns in blood that are associated with disease severity and progression 
  2. Find the most likely genetic drivers of DNAm signals associated with Parkinson’s disease severity 
  3. Develop a prediction score for Parkinson’s disease severity based on genetic data