Last Friday Shake It Up CEO, Ben Young hosted a research information session in Brisbane where supporters had the opportunity to hear directly from researchers at The University of Queensland.
Associate Professor Trent Woodruff and Dr Richard Gordon shared their research findings and spent time answering questions from the group. Whilst the research findings were inspiring in themselves, it was also wonderful to see Shake It Up supporters making new connections and friendships.
Shake It Up was able to make this a free event due to support from AbbVie and we thank them for their ongoing commitment to Parkinson’s research.
Ben sat down with Trent and Richard and asked them to share a little about their research with our online community:
What is the project Name?
Pharmacological targeting of the NLRP3 inflammasome in pre-clinical models of Parkinson’s Disease using potent orally active inhibitors.
Who is in the research team?
Our Parkinson’s research team is led by Associate Professor Trent Woodruff, and includes Dr Richard Gordon as the lead post-doctoral scientist driving the research. For this project we are also working with other researchers at UQ with specific areas of expertise in Immunology (Dr Kate Schroder), and Drug Development (Prof Matt Cooper).
What area of Parkinson’s are you researching?
Our major research focus is exploring the deleterious roles of the innate immune response and the chronic neuro-inflammation that occurs in the brains of patients with Parkinson’s Disease. We work closely with our collaborators both in Australia and internationally to identify, develop and test novel drugs to slow down or reduce this sustained neuro-inflammation in preclinical disease models.
Why is this research important?
There is accumulating evidence from patient studies and preclinical models which suggests that a chronically overactive immune response in Parkinson’s disease patients can accelerate the ongoing loss of the dopamine producing brain cells. This consequently drives the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Our aim is to therefore target this overactive immune response and the excessive neuro-inflammation in order to slow down or halt disease progression.
What are you trying to discover?
A better treatment for Parkinson’s disease, or a feasible means to significantly halt the progressive worsening of disease in patients.
Where is the research up to?
We have very exciting pre-clinical data in multiple models of Parkinson’s disease for our orally active drugs. Most significantly, we have recently confirmed that the pathway which our drug blocks, is over-activated in the brains of Parkinson’s disease patients. Further, we have now identified a novel mechanism by which this signalling pathway can drive Parkinson’s disease pathology and have confirmed that our current drugs are effective in blocking this pathological process.
Currently, we are working with our collaborators on developing next generation inhibitors of this pathway, which are capable of entering the brain at lower doses, and which would make for better drugs in the clinic. We are also moving towards testing our current drugs in non-human primate models of Parkinson’s disease, which is the next major step in the drug development process for Parkinson’s.
What drives your commitment to find better treatments for Parkinson’s?
We are driven by our research findings, which are pointing more and more to a role for the immune system in Parkinson’s disease burden. We are very fortunate to collaborate with medicinal chemists who are developing novel drugs to block these pathological immune cascades in the brain. Our findings in animal models of Parkinson’s disease, indicate that these drugs can limit inflammation in the brain, and reduce dopamine neuron loss, and therefore reduce disease symptoms. Our hope for the future is to take these novel drugs into human clinical trials for Parkinson’s treatment. This is what drives us to turn up to work each day – the anticipation to one day identify a treatment that can greatly slow disease in Parkinson’s sufferers.
The cost of this project is $294,629 over 2 years with the funding shared on a 50/50 basis with The Michael J. Fox Foundation.
To help us maintain momentum on our quest for better treatments and ultimately a cure for Parkinson’s please consider making a tax deductible donation today.
Learn more about the research we are funding on our funded projects page.
About our event sponsor AbbVie:
AbbVie is a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company formed in 2013 following separation from Abbott Laboratories. The company’s mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to develop and market advanced therapies that address some of the world’s most complex and serious diseases. Together with its wholly-owned subsidiary, Pharmacyclics, AbbVie employs more than 28,000 people worldwide and markets medicines in more than 170 countries. For further information on the company and its people, portfolio and commitments, please visit www.abbvie.com. Follow @abbvie on Twitter or view careers on our Facebook or LinkedIn page.