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Cleveland Clinic launches first-of-its-kind brain study with 200,000 participants

Officials say it's the largest clinical study ever done for brain disease.
Credit: Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic.

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Clinic says they’re launching a “landmark study” to better understand why millions of people around the world suffer from brain diseases “with the goal of pinpointing disease biomarkers early – well before clinical symptoms present themselves.”

The Cleveland Clinic Brain Study, which was announced Wednesday morning, is said to be the largest clinical study ever done for brain disease. Officials say the effort will collect data from up to 200,000 neurologically healthy individuals throughout a 20-year period in an effort to identify ways to prevent and cure neurological disorders.

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“One in every six people around the globe has a neurological disease such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke or epilepsy,” the Cleveland Clinic said in a press release. “While the medical community has learned to manage some symptoms of brain disorders, it remains challenging to predict who will become sick or how to cure – or even stop the progression of – these diseases once they are diagnosed.”

The study is led by Andre Machado, M.D., Ph.D., and Imad Najm, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic’s Neurological Institute. The Cleveland Clinic said the effort also enlists a multidisciplinary team of physicians and scientists from across the global health system. The study, which started at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus, will also expand to additional sites.

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“Disrupting neurological diseases is one of the greatest challenges of our time and motivates our clinicians and scientists every day,” said Dr. Machado, chair of the Neurological Institute and the Charles and Christine Carroll Family Endowed Chair in Functional Neurosurgery. “By launching a study of this magnitude, we have the potential to discover causes of neurological disorders and what happens before symptoms become obvious – the silent phase. Our hope is to change the course of neurodegeneration, with the long-term goal of curing diseases in their earliest stages, years before symptoms are even seen. Achieving this will be a great gift to our children and grandchildren. We can make neurological care better for the next generations.”

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The Cleveland Clinic said the initial phase of this study will enroll 10,000 volunteers throughout the first five years. Each will be examined and thoroughly investigated. This includes:

  • Adults ages 50 and older with no known neurological disorder.
  • Neurologically healthy adults ages 20 and older who have a first-degree relative diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
  • Volunteers are not required to be Cleveland Clinic patients.

Those interested in participating can CLICK HERE for more information.

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“Participants will undergo yearly assessments including neurological examination, bloodwork, eye retina scans, brain MRIs, EEG and sleep studies and other cognitive function tests,” according to the Cleveland Clinic’s press release. “Using advanced computing tools, researchers will collect data points from the study volunteers. Collectively, these data points will form a trend line to capture the genetic risk factors, and invisible molecular, structural, neurophysiological and cognitive/memory changes in the brain over time. Researchers will seek ‘disease fingerprints’ to help guide diagnostic and preventative medicines.”

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