Shake It Up Australia and The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) today announced the first of up to $3 million worth of Australian research grants to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease.
The research will explore the potential link between the immune system and the gene LRRK2 in people with Parkinson’s disease. Scientists believe mutations in this protein could be the most common hereditary genetic cause of PD identified to date.
World-leading Sydney medical researcher Prof Glenda Halliday and her co-researcher, Dr Nic Dzamko have been awarded $150,000 to study how immune cells detect and respond to inflammatory stimuli and whether LRRK2 is involved.
Prof Halliday is Senior Principal Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and since 1993 has been one of the senior scientists at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA). Dr Dzamko is a CJ Martin Fellow of the NHMRC at UNSW and NeuRA.
“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.
“Thanks to support from MJFF and Shake it Up , we have become a part of the international LRRK2 Biology Consortium that is working to determine how LRRK2 causes Parkinson’s disease so that the mechanism can be targeted therapeutically.
“Determining whether and how LRRK2 affects innate immune pathways will identify potentially modifiable pathways for therapeutic targeting.
“If we observe a change in LRRK2 only in immune cells from patients with Parkinson’s disease, we will assess this finding further as a potential biomarker for the disease.”
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