New Project Funded: How Does LRRK2 Activity Affect Inflammatory Signaling in Parkinson’s Disease?

Study Rationale:
Differences in the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene can increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD), and there is an abundance of the LRRK2 protein in blood immune cells that regulate inflammation. This project will determine if genetic differences in LRRK2 affect inflammation in PD.

Hypothesis:
Our hypothesis is that genetic differences in LRRK2 increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s and cause increased inflammation in immune cells in the blood.

Study Design:
Our project will use a new pre-clinical model that was developed from cells derived from individuals with PD. We will turn these cells into blood immune cells with genetically altered forms of LRRK2 and measure how these cells respond to inflammation.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s disease:
This project will evaluate inflammation in blood immune cells, which may be affected in PD. Our results could therefore help with earlier diagnosis of Parkinson’s. In addition, outcomes could aid in the design of Parkinson’s treatments targeting LRRK2 and/or inflammation.

Next Steps for Development:
If we determine that LRRK2 affects inflammation, additional work will be required to find out exactly how this occurs. Also, as our project uses cell models, we would need to ensure that these results can be confirmed across other cell types.

About Nic DzmakoDr Nic Dzamko

Nic Dzamko works with Professor Glenda Halliday to understand the causes of Parkinson’s disease. In Particular Nic focuses on the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2), the leading genetic cause of autosomal dominant Parkinson’s disease. Nic has a biomedical science degree with first class honours and a Chancellors letter of commendation from Flinders University of South Australia and a PhD from the University of Melbourne. Nic has trained at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and at the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit in Dundee, Scotland.

Find out what inspires Nic Dzamko to focus on Neuroscience and the importance of medical research in our special “Under the Microscope” article.

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