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.”
Shake It Up was established this year by businessman Clyde Campbell who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2009 at the age of 44. Shake It Up works with MJFF to direct money to high-impact PD research projects throughout Australia.
Mr. Campbell, who is one of about 80,000 Australians with Parkinson’s, said Shake It Up is devoted to funding innovative research in Australia into the mechanisms that cause PD.
“Our end goal is finding a cure,” Mr Campbell said.
“The research being performed by Prof. Halliday is innovative and could have wider ramifications for other motor-neurone diseases.”
A key objective of the collaboration with MJFF is to bring the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) to Australia. PPMI is MJFF’s landmark five-year international clinical study aiming to identify biomarkers that reveal the progression of Parkinson’s disease, which is critical to developing long-awaited disease-modifying treatments that could transform patients’ lives.
The study is already under way in the United States and Europe. Expansion into Australia will make the study truly global, increasing chances to identify universally relevant biomarkers.
For more information, or to speak to Clyde Campbell or Prof. Halliday: John Hanrahan – 02 9262 3868
About the Shake it Up Foundation
Shake It Up Australia Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2011 to promote and focus on Parkinson’s Disease research here in Australia. Australian businessman Clyde Campbell Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease two years ago at the age of 44, Clyde decided to take action to give the estimated 80,000 Australians with the incurable degenerative disease some hope through the newly created Shake It Up Foundation. The father of three and managing director of Machinery Automation & Robotics set-up the Foundation and, following a meeting with Michael J. Fox and the board of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, won approval to establish “Team Fox Australia” as its official fundraising arm. Already the Shake It Up Australia Foundation has secured $1 million in funding for its first year of programs and another $2 million commitment in dollar for dollar contributions for the first three years. They recently also received the Suncorp Bank award for both highest fundraising team and individual while participating in last month’s Blackmores Sydney Running Festival. A community funded charity, Shake It Up Australia lean on partners and supporters to help reach their goals of delivering better treatments, prevention strategies and ultimately finding a cure in the very near future.
For more information visit: shakeitup.org.au | www.facebook.com/shakeitupaust
About The Michael J. Fox Foundation
As the world’s largest private funder of Parkinson’s research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson’s disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today. The Foundation pursues its goals through an aggressively funded, highly targeted research program coupled with active global engagement of scientists, Parkinson’s patients, business leaders, clinical trial participants, donors and volunteers. In addition to funding more than $265 million in research to date, the Foundation has fundamentally altered the trajectory of progress toward a cure. Operating at the hub of worldwide Parkinson’s research, the Foundation forges groundbreaking collaborations with industry leaders, academic scientists and government research funders; increases the flow of participants into Parkinson’s disease clinical trials with its online tool, Fox Trial Finder; promotes Parkinson’s awareness through high-profile advocacy, events and outreach; and coordinates the grassroots involvement of thousands of Team Fox members around the world. Now through December 31, 2012, all new and increased giving to The Michael J. Fox Foundation, as well as gifts from donors who have not given since 2009 or earlier, will be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis with the $50-million Brin Wojcicki Challenge, launched by Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki.