Researchers at the RVC and UCL are launching a pioneering new study into the causes and progression of Parkinson’s disease, following a $7 million grant from the Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s (ASAP) initiative.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease of brain degeneration that occurs when brain cells that make dopamine, a chemical that coordinates movement, either stop working or die. This causes people with Parkinson’s to develop slowness, tremors, stiffness, and walking and balance problems. Parkinson’s affects over 130,000 people in the UK alone, and currently available treatments act only to alleviate symptoms, but not slow progression of the disease. This significant grant will enable the research team to explore the possibilities of future prevention and treatment of the condition.
The researchers at the RVC, led by Dr Patrick Lewis, Professor of Neuroscience, have been awarded $659,000 from to use cellular and biochemical approaches to investigate the role of the LRRK2 gene in Parkinson’s.
Mutations in the LRRK2 gene are the most common genetic cause of Parkinson’s, making it a priority drug target for the disease, however the molecular details of how this gene can influence the progression of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s have not yet been fully explored.
Dr Patrick Lewis, Professor of Neuroscience at the RVC, said:
“The Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s foundation grants represent a new way of approaching research into Parkinson’s, with the clear goal of accelerating progress in our understanding of this disorder. It is a real privilege to be involved in this initiative.”
Professor Jonathan Elliott, Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation) at the RVC, said:
“The RVC is delighted to be part of this large collaborative effort to advance treatments for Parkinson’s Disease. Neurodegenerative conditions significantly impact on the quality of life of our ageing human population in the UK and Professor Lewis’ role in this collaboration is exciting in its potential to uncover new drug targets to slow progressive loss of functioning neurons.”
Two other studies, both led by research partners at UCL, will also be issued under the grant. One study will investigate the prevalence of gut bacteria in contributing to the cause of the disease while the other will seek to understand why some brain cells are more resistant to the pathological process of Parkinson’s