Our Research Projects

Shake It Up together with our partners at The Michael J. Fox Foundation have funded 41 Research projects at 12 different institutes to the value of over $11.5 Million.

Professor Glenda Halliday
Award Date: November 2019
Duration: 18 Months
Institution: University of Sydney
Researchers: Professor Glenda Halliday, Yuhong Fu, MD, PhD

There is very little data on the role of astrocytes in Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, astrocytes are notoriously regionally heterogeneous, so analysis of astrocyte expression profiles in non-PD affected brain regions may not be relevant. Dr. Halliday proposes to use digital-spatial profiling of human brain tissue from PD-relevant regions to asses astrocyte response to alpha-synuclein and expression of A1 and/or A2 like profiles.

Paul Robert Fisher, BSc
Award Date: September 2019
Duration: 12 Months
Institution: La Trobe University
Researchers: Paul Robert Fisher, BSc, MPhil, PhD, Andrew H. Evans, MD, FRACP

The goal of this study is to determine if differences in mitochondrial function in lymphoblastoid cells and/or PBMCs can reliably detect prodromal status in those with a high risk of conversion to PD. Previous studies had demonstrated a clear mitochondrial deficit after discriminate analyses when multiple different readouts were combined for analysis in PD subjects vs to controls. These parameters also did not change with time. The reviewer (Sam Hasson, Amgen) suggested additional experiments to determine if these readouts could serve as biomarkers in a PD prodromal cohort.

Dr Oliver Rawashdeh, PhD
Award Date: May 2019
Duration: 18 Months
Institution: The University of Queensland
Researchers: Dr Oliver Rawashdeh, PhD

Mounting evidence suggests Parkinson’s disease patients have accumulating disruption of sleep and circadian (24-hourly) rhythms which are thought to worsen other symptoms associated with PD. We have recently discovered a new pathway called Period1 (Per1) which can regulate the sensitivity of the biological clock to light. Removal or blocking of this pathway enhance the responsiveness to light which is affected in PD.

Associate Professor Kay Double, PhD
Award Date: May 2019
Duration: 18 Months
Institution: University of Sydney
Researchers: Associate Professor Kay Double PhD

We have recently shown that a new type of toxic protein forms in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease.  This same protein is known to cause nerve cell death in another degenerative disorder which affects movement. We therefore suggest this abnormal protein may underlie the death of brain cells in Parkinson’s disease.        

Professor Glenda Halliday
Award Date: May 2019
Duration: 12 months
Institution: Brain and Mind Institute
Researchers: Professor Glenda Halliday

This project will leverage digital spatial profiling technology to examine multiple molecular targets on immune-oncology pathways at different pathological progression stages of PD (Braak stages) using patient post-mortem tissue. If successful, this effort has the potential of identifying novel molecular targets for early diagnosis and treatments, as well as establishing a timeline of immunopathological correlation with PD.

Prof. Andrew Hill and Dr. Lesley Cheng
Award Date: February 2019
Duration: 1 year
Institution: La Trobe University
Researchers: Prof. Andrew Hill and Dr Lesley Cheng

Shake It Up Australia together with our partners at The Michael J. Fox Foundation have committed funding to Professor Andrew Hill at La Trobe University to test the power of extracellular vesicles (EVs), or cell particles, to detect the disease via a simple blood test.

Dr Richard Gordon
Award Date: February 2019
Duration: 2 Years
Institution: The University of Queensland
Researchers: Dr Richard Gordon and Dr John O’Sullivan

Our previous studies confirmed the activation of an immune system complex called the inflammasome is involved in chronic inflammation and the death of brain cells in Parkinson’s disease. Under the previous grant, we also identified and confirmed a new signaling pathway involving toxic forms of the protein alpha-synuclein that activates the inflammasome. We demonstrated that this pathway is activated in people with Parkinson’s and pre-clinical models of the disease. Crucially, blocking this pathway using a repurposed drug was beneficial in pre-clinical models.

Dr Matthew Brodie
Award Date: December 2018
Duration: 2 Years
Institution: NeuRA and UNSW
Researchers: Matthew Brodie & Associate Professor Kim Delbaere

StandingTall-PD is the first scalable self-managed solution to address excessive step-time variability, balance impairments and FOG in people with PD delivered using mobile technology (tablet, smart-phone, smart-socks and ear-buds).

Nicolas Dzamko PhD
Award Date: October 2018
Duration: 2 Years
Institution: The University of Sydney
Researchers: Nicolas Dzamko PhD

With previous funding from MJFF & SIU, we determined how the activity of LRRK2 genetic mutations contributed to inflammation in Parkinson’s. We found that inflammation was higher when LRRK2 was more active. This may help explain how LRRK2 contributes to the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Professor Glenda Halliday
Award Date: September 2018
Duration: 1 Years
Institution: The University of Sydney
Researchers: Nicolas Dzamko PhDq

A dysfunction of the glucocerebrosidase (GCase) protein increases the risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Blood cells called monocytes produce large amounts of this protein. The aim of this study is to determine how well the GCase protein functions in monocytes from the blood of people diagnosed with PD.

Associate Professor John O'Sullivan
Award Date: April 2018
Duration: 3 Years
Institution: The University of Queensland
Researchers: Associate Professor John O’Sullivan

This project is a collaboration between the University of Queensland, Shake It Up, Queensland Government, The Wesley Research Institute, Griffith University and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust. The protocol for this study is to trial two re-purposed drugs against two placebo groups. The overall approach of the intended trial is to rapidly screen existing drugs that are licensed and used already in clinical practice for other indications to determine whether they are worth transitioning to Phase III, multi-centre, randomised, placebo-controlled, double blind trials. If successful, such trials would facilitate a change in the indication of already licensed medications to allow their use as disease modifying treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

Professor Simon Lewis
Award Date: April 2018
Duration: 3 Years
Institution: Brain and Mind Institute, University of Sydney
Researchers: Professor Simon Lewis, Professor Dominic Rowe, Professor Glenda Halliday

The protocol for this trial will be for four drugs and one placebo in patients with more established Parkinson’s as well as validating disease biomarkers that could be used to evaluate the efficacy of future therapeutic treatments.

Professor Glenda Halliday
Award Date: December 2017
Duration: 2 Years
Institution: The University of Sydney
Researchers: Professor Glenda Halliday PhD

I) Assess the presence of aggregated alpha-synuclein in inclusions and as diffuse oligomers in PD (Braak stage 4 and 6) and MSA (MSA-p and MSA-C) post-mortem tissues by IHC and IF using multiple antibodies selected for alpha-synuclien including MJF-14
2) Assess the presence of aggregated alpha-synuclein in inclusions and as diffuse oligomers in PD and MSA post-mo1iem tissues by MJF-14 proximity ligation assay and fF analyses
3) Assess the correlation between the cytopathology of oligodendrocytes, astrocytes and neurons 4) Assess specific protein changes associated with inclusion formation, myelination and mitochondria

Professor Malcolm Horne
Award Date: December 2017
Duration: 2 Years
Institution: Florey Neurosciences Institute
Researchers: Professor Malcolm Horne

Objective measurement in Parkinson’s Disease (PD), offers significant advantages for clinical management and the clinical validation of new therapies.

The Parkinson’s/Personal KinetiGraph™ (PKG™) System provides a continuous, objective measurement of movement disorder symptoms in everyday environments, including bradykinesia (BK), dyskinesia (DK) and tremor. The PKG™ system consists of a wearable data logger, proprietary algorithms for data analyses and intuitive data presentation for clinicians (the PKG™ report).

Dr Nicolas Dzamko PhD - University of Sydney
Award Date: February 2017
Duration: 12 months
Institution: The University of Sydney
Researchers: Dr Nicolas Dzamko PhD

The contribution of inflammation to Parkinson’s disease (PD) is increasingly being recognised. However, the stage of the disease in which inflammation is prevalent and/or important remains unclear. Our recent work suggests that inflammation may be increased early in the course of PD.

Dr Nicolas Dzamko PhD - University of Sydney
Award Date: February 2017
Duration: 12 months
Institution: The University of Sydney
Researchers: Dr Nicolas Dzamko PhD

The contribution of inflammation to Parkinson’s disease (PD) is increasingly being recognised. However, the stage of the disease in which inflammation is prevalent and/or important remains unclear. Our recent work suggests that inflammation may be increased early in the course of PD.

Dr Richard Gordon
Award Date: November 2016
Duration: 12 months
Institution: UQ’s School of Biomedical Sciences
Researchers: Dr Richard Gordon

The research collaboration comprises researchers from across UQ, including Dr. Richard Gordon and Associate Professor Woodruff from the School of Biomedical Sciences, Dr John O’Sullivan from The School of Medicine and RBWH and Professor Matt Cooper and Dr Kate Schroder from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Matthew Cooper, PhD
Award Date: September 2016
Duration: 12 months
Institution: NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and Professor of Chemistry & Structural Biology at University of Queensland
Researchers: Matthew Allister Cooper, PhD
Victor Villemagne, MD
Award Date: March 2016
Duration: 12 months
Institution: The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health
Researchers: Victor Villemagne, MD and Kevin Barnham, PhD

The accumulation of aggregated alpha-synuclein in the brain is the pathological hallmark of Parkinson’s disease and is a frequent target for drugs being developed to treat PD. The ability to visualize alpha-syncuclein in the brain could be useful both as a biomarker of the presence of disease and disease progression and as a tool for drug development. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop a PET radiotracer to image the distribution of alpha-synuclein in the brain. Lead compounds that bind to alpha-synuclein will be optimized to modify certain features in order to improve selectivity and binding potency. Optimized compounds will be radiolabeled and tested in PD models. The deliverable for this funding period is one or more optimized compounds that show promise for use as a PET tracer and that will be ready for human testing in the near future.

Professor Glenda Halliday PhD
Award Date: March 2016
Duration: 2 Years
Institution: Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA)
Researchers: Professor Glenda Halliday

In the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease, the GBA protein appears to no longer fully function. Thus, therapies aimed at stabilizing glucocerebrosidase (GBA) protein and/or activity are potential new treatments for Parkinson’s disease. This project will use flow cytometry to develop and test a clinically relevant biomarker assay for the simultaneous detection of GBA protein and activity in peripheral immune cells from patients with Parkinson’s disease. Altered peripheral GBA protein or activity in patients with Parkinson’s disease may constitute a convenient biomarker for selection into therapeutic trials and/or a convenient peripheral measure of the efficacy of drugs aimed at stabilizing GBA.

Dr Nicolas Dzamko PhD - University of Sydney
Award Date: March 2016
Duration: 12 months
Institution: Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA)
Researchers: Nicolas Dzamko, PhD

People with certain genetic differences (mutations) in the LRRK2 gene are at much greater risk of getting Parkinson’s. While only a small percentage of all Parkinson’s cases are directly due to LRRK2 mutations understanding what LRRK2 does and what it may do differently in Parkinson’s disease patients is a big research priority, as pharmaceutical companies are developing drugs that can block LRRK2 function. Understanding how LRRK2 mutations cause Parkinson’s disease is complicated though, as the mutations have a number of effects on the LRRK2 protein. This project aims to use new models to separate the effects of LRRK2 mutations and study them in isolation. This may help delineate how LRRK2 mutations are causing Parkinson’s disease and the best ways to therapeutically target the LRRK2 protein for new Parkinson’s disease treatments.

Dr Nicolas Dzamko PhD - University of Sydney
Award Date: March 2016
Duration: 12 months
Institution: Neuroscience Research Australia
Researchers: Nicolas Dzmako
Professor Paul Fisher
Award Date: July 2015
Duration: 3 Years
Institution: La Trobe University
Researchers: Professor Fishe, Dr Sarah Annesley and Dr Danuta Loesch-Mdzewska

Under an exciting new funding agreement with Parkinson’s Victoria we will see the Shake It Up component for this specific project shared equally with Parkinson’s Victoria.

UQ Research Team
Award Date: December 2014
Duration: 2 Years
Institution: University of Queensland
Researchers: Associate Professor Woodruff
Professor Glenda Halliday and Dr Nicolas Dzamko
Award Date: July 2014
Duration: 1 Years
Institution: Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA)
Researchers: Professor Glenda Halliday and Dr Nicolas Dzamko
Associate Professor Antony Cooper
Award Date: June 2014
Duration: 1 Years
Institution: Garvan Institute for Medical Research
Researchers: John Mattick and Antony Cooper
Professor Glenda Halliday and Dr Nicolas Dzamko
Award Date: February 2014
Duration: 1 Years
Institution: Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA)
Researchers: Professor Glenda Halliday and Dr Nicolas Dzamko
Professor Glenda Halliday
Award Date: February 2014
Duration: 1 Years
Institution: Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA)
Researchers: Professor Glenda Halliday and Dr Nicolas Dzamko
Professor Glenda Halliday and Dr Nicolas Dzamko
Award Date: September 2013
Duration: 18 month
Institution: Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA)
Researchers: Prof Glenda Halliday and Dr Nic Dzamko
Professor John Mattick
Award Date: September, 2013
Duration: 1 Years
Institution: Garvan Institute for Medical Research
Researchers: John Mattick and Antony Cooper
Dr Catherine Leamey, Dr Atomu Sawatari
Award Date: June 2013
Duration: 1 Years
Institution: University of Sydney
Researchers: Atomu Sawatari and Catherine Anne Leamey
Professor David Finklestein
Award Date: October 2012
Duration: 3 Years
Institution: Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health,
Researchers: Scott Ayton, PhD, Melbourne , Australia, David I. Finkelstein, PhD Melbourne , Australia and Ashley I. Bush, MD/PhD Melbourne , Australia
Professor Dominic Rowe
Award Date: April 2012
Duration: Ongoing
Institution: Macquarie Neurology at Macquarie University Clinic, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW
Researchers: Professor Dominic Rowe
Dr Ian Andrew Trounce
Award Date: March 2012
Duration: 1 year
Researchers: Ian Andrew Trounce, PhD – Center for Eye Research Australia Zane Andrews, PhD -Neuronal Metabolism and Degeneration Lab David Moses MD, FRACP -Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Neurological Research
Professor Glenda Halliday and Dr Nicolas Dzamko
Award Date: November 2011
Duration: 1 Years
Institution: Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA)
Researchers: Prof Glenda Halliday Dr Nic Dzamko

This grant will allow us to determine whether LRRK2 affects innate immunity, the first non-specific line of immune defence, and whether LRRK2 function in immune cells is changed in patients with Parkinson’s disease,” Prof. Halliday said

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