Healthcare facilities and clinical researchers around the UK have announced that they will play a key role in the Tracking Parkinson’s study, the world’s biggest study into the cause of the disease.

Plymouth researchers at the Peninsula Medical School will seek 35 people in the city per year to get involved in the study which aims to find better ways of diagnosing and treating Parkinson’s disease.

Academics from Newcastle University and medical experts from the Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will also join forces with researchers to help find a cure for the debilitating condition that affects around 130,000 people in the UK.

Research in Newcastle is being led by Movement Disorder Neurology professor David Burn. He commented, "Finding a cure for Parkinson’s is what every researcher in the field dreams about. Tracking Parkinson’s is a major new research project and we are very excited to be involved right at the beginning.

"This study really offers hope for the future for people with Parkinson’s and we need around 150 people in Newcastle and the North East to volunteer to help us make our vision of a cure a reality," said Burn.

Charity Parkinson’s UK is investing over £1.6 million into the Tracking Parkinson’s research study which will involve around 3,000 volunteers and eventually link around 50 treatment centres around the UK.

The launch of the programme on Monday coincided with the first day of Parkinson’s Awareness Week 2012, which has 200 events planned across the country to help raise money and find a cure for the disease.

City Hospital in Birmingham is also taking part in a major research project, along with the University of Nottingham, the National Parkinson’s Foundation Centre for Excellence in Parkinson’s at Royal Derby Hospital, and Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.