Norwich hospital to take part in landmark Parkinson’s research

A Norwich hospital will be a key centre for a landmark research project into Parkinson's Disease and is appealing for volunteers to take part in the study.

Parkinson's UK is investing �1.6m into the ground-breaking Tracking Parkinson's clinical study.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's NHS Foundation Trust is one of the key centres taking part in the research and the trust's consultant neurologist Dr Paul Worth said: 'Here in East Anglia we are very pleased to be playing a full part in Tracking Parkinson's.

'We want every eligible person with Parkinson's in the region to be able to take part in the study, and so as Parkinson's Research Director for the region I have made sure that a Parkinson's specialist from every acute hospital will be involved in recruitment.

'Many people with Parkinson's in Norwich have already expressed interest in participating, and we recruited our first volunteer last week.

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'In order to minimise any extra time our volunteers will need to commit to helping with this study, we will try to make sure that the assessments take place at the same time as their normal appointments. I have no doubt that people affected by Parkinson's will be very supportive of this study.'

The charity is putting out an urgent call for 3,000 volunteers – both people diagnosed with Parkinson's within the past three years and those aged under 50 at the time of diagnosis, and their brothers and sisters – to take part in the research project.

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It will be led by the University of Glasgow and will link to 35-40 centres around the UK, including centres in Norwich, King's Lynn and Bury St Edmunds.

The primary aim of the study is to identify elusive biomarkers for Parkinson's – signpost indicators in the blood, for example – which could help develop simple tests, like blood tests, for use as diagnostic tools. Despite the efforts of researchers worldwide, no biomarkers have yet been identified for Parkinson's. Early diagnosis is crucial if doctors are to be able to prescribe the right drugs for people with Parkinson's to control their condition.

To find out more about how to take part in Tracking Parkinson's please telephone the freephone helpline on 0808 800 0303, or you can visit

Father-of-three Mark Whitworth found out two years ago, when he was just 38, that he had Parkinson's.

The former kick-boxing champion said the diagnosis knocked him out - a feat that no man had ever been able to achieve during his martial arts career.

Since then he has had to make significant lifestyle changes, and grapple with the long-term ramifications of the progressive neurological condition.

Mr Whitworth, from Primrose Crescent in Thorpe St Andrew, said: 'I do a lot of fundraising for Parkinson's UK because I know they want the money to go into research.

'I would like to have a cure in my lifetime, and if not in my lifetime, then hopefully it will help someone else one day.

'I believe I have still got a good quality of life ahead of me.

'This is probably something I would consider volunteering for.'

Mr Whitworth, who still practises martial arts to help improve his co-ordination, said: 'I felt horrible when I was diagnosed. I didn't know much about Parkinson's and you think you are going to die and it put me in to shock really.

'Now I know much more about it and have spoken to people with Parkinson's. It's still hard but I find writing and sharing my poems helps me to stay strong.'

Mr Whitworth set up a Parkinson's group for people who have been diagnosed at a younger age. Members meet from 7.30pm on the last Thursday of the month at the Griffin Pub in Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew.

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