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Parkinson's Research Update

There are numerous studies being undertaken throughout the globe relating to Parkinson’s disease, its causes and effects. Most large mpharmaceutical companies are also developing new drugs and participating in drugs trials. Unfortunately there is no quick fix and while there have been significant advances in the knowledge that we have about the brain and many feel we are tantalising close to finding a cure, drug management of Parkinson's seems to be the best option available.

Dublin Neurological Institute Parkinson's Disease Research Appeal!

'The research team at the Dublin Neurological Institute at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital are interested in hearing from anyone who has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. If you would like to participate in one of the research projects being conducted at the Mater or would like more information about same, please contact Dr. Allan McCarthy at 01-8545033 or via email at amccarthy1@mater.ie to learn more.

Participation typically involves a once off visit to the Dublin Neurological Institute. This research is under the supervision of Prof. Tim Lynch, Consultant Neurologist.

The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

The Michael J Fox Foundation is currently recruiting participants for an international trial, and they are looking for people with Parkinson’s disease, and people without. For those of you who attended the June 17th National Patient Conference, you may already know about this, and have registered, but here is some information again...

To register, you must go online to their dedicated website www.foxtrialfinder.org and register your details.

23 and Me Genetic Research

23 and Me, genetic researchers, are looking for volunteers to participate in their current study into the genetic links in Parkinson's disease. There is more information on their website www.23andMe.com and you can view the poster HERE>>>

Here is a letter from Bianca. She helps to manage the Parkinson's Research at 23andMe, a growing personal genomics company based in Mountain View, California.  

"Here at 23andMe we have aParkinson’s Research Initiativein which our goal is to enroll 10,000 people with Parkinson’s in order to study how genes and environment may cause the disease. The ultimate goal is to expedite improvements in preventive measures, diagnosis, and treatments. This initiative is in collaboration with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the Parkinson's Institute and the National Parkinson Foundation. We have been fortunate enough to gain the support and partnership of The Cure Parkinson's Trust, Cleveland Clinic, Parkinson Voice Project, The Northwest Parkinson's Foundation, and more - and we would be greatly appreciative to add The Parkinson's Association of Ireland as an official partner as well."

Dear Community Members,

I want to share with you an empowering opportunity to contribute to PD research from the comfort of your own home.

A U.S. based company called 23andMe will do a free DNA test for those diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.

They send you a spit tube; just spit in the tube and send it to them in the box they supply (prepaid shipping).

a. Doesn't cost you a dime;
b. You'll help PD research;
c. You can learn what your DNA says about your health, including genes linked to PD;
d. You can find long lost relatives at the same time!

Click the link here then press the red button to participate: www.23andme. com/pd

Best Wishes for you all.
-Bianca Moiseff

 

 

The Parkinson’s Association of Ireland is currently funding research through Dr Gavin Davey B.A. (Mod.), Ph.D. Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience, School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity College, Dublin. Dr. Davey has written and update on his research for us.

The consequences of losing cells in the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine are Parkinson’s symptoms. In our laboratory in Trinity we spend most of our time trying to figure out what causes dopamine producing cells to prematurely die, how to stop them from doing so and how to regenerate brain tissue. We know that the powerhouses of the cell, mitochondria, are implicated in Parkinson’s disease. Every day, they produce about 65 kg of the energy molecule, ATP, and even though the brain is only 2% of our body weight it uses nearly a fifth of the total blood supply. This is because the brain is highly active and requires large amounts of ATP to work efficiently.

In Parkinson’s it is known that a group of mitochondrial proteins called complex I have lowered activities. The cause of this difference is unknown but our research has shown that such a defect has very serious consequences for controlling of neurotransmitter signaling in the brain. We have been able to reverse some of the energy deficits by loading the mitochondria with Coenzyme Q – like drugs. Getting new drugs across the blood brain barrier and targeting them to dopamine producing cells is a very difficult challenge, so some of our research involves designing new drugs that are selectively transported only into dopamine cells where they supercharge the mitochondria and restore normal energy levels in the brain.

We do this research by building computational models of proteins called transporters that are specific to dopamine cells and then use in silico design of new drugs that we think might be beneficial. Then we select the best drugs, synthesize them and test them on our experimental models to see if they reverse the damage present in Parkinson’s. This is a time consuming process but it is essential for finding new drugs that are specific for dopamine cells and therefore not likely to be toxic to other parts of the body.

Another exciting area of research to recently emerge in the Parkinson’s field is the whole area of cell reprogramming. This is where we take skins cells from Parkinson’s people and instruct them to revert to a state very similar to a stem cell. Then we grow them in the laboratory and differentiate them to become dopamine producing cells (see picture), similar to what exists in the functioning brain.

The advantage of this technique is that we can study the dopamine cells to figure out why they might be more likely to die under certain conditions and how we can stop such events from occurring. It also means that we have a non invasive system for screening new drugs that might be protective for dopamine cells.

There is also quite a lot of research being done on transplanting reprogrammed cells into the brain so that they change into cells that replenish lost dopamine. It is hoped that the number of new drugs in clinical trials along with new transplantation and surgical techniques will lead to effective treatments for Parkinson’s in the near future.

Figure title:Dopamine cells made from reprogrammed skin cells in the Davey laboratory

 

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