Shake It Up Progress Update December 2023
Wednesday, 20th December 2023

We are rapidly approaching the end of 2023, a huge year in Parkinson’s research. Thank you to everyone in our community for your steadfast support of our mission over the year. 

So far in 2023, we have provided over $4M in funding to game-changing, globally competitive research that aims to slow, stop and cure Parkinson’s.  

In recent weeks we have also been involved in productive and important discussions with other national collaborators about how we can best advocate for the Parkinson’s community in Australia.  

We are committed to addressing the key issues faced by people living with Parkinson’s and to continue advancing the important work of the research community. With over 200,000 Australians living with Parkinson’s – now the fastest growing neurological disorder in the world – it’s crucial that Parkinson’s becomes a national health priority. We look forward to sharing more about these efforts in the new year.  

All in all, it has been a busy few months at Shake It Up! We’re pleased to bring you the latest in research and Parkinson’s news since our last update in September 

New Research Projects Funded 

We are thrilled to have announced funding for two new research projects, each of which will advance our understanding of Parkinson’s and our ability to more effectively treat and diagnose the disease.  

  • Longitudinal validation of peripheral GCase under clinical trial conditions – Led by Nicolas Dzamko, PhD, Senior Research Fellow at University of Sydney, with a team of collaborators. This project will validate a potential new biomarker for Parkinson’s, looking at specific activity in a protein in the blood cells. It has the potential to more effectively place people into clinical trials of drug treatments most likely to work with their Parkinson’s symptoms. Read our Q&A about this project here.
  • The Australian Parkinson’s Genetics Study (Year 2) – The second year of the APGS will include increased international collaboration and will continue the research team’s ground-breaking work to identify genetic factors influencing the risk of developing Parkinson’s. An important focus of Year 2 is trying to increase the participation of people from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in medical research, specifically Australians of Asian ancestry. Read our Q&A about this project here. 

Research Updates 

Our previously funded projects are making exciting progress to contribute to the scientific understanding of Parkinson’s disease. We spoke with some of the researchers who have received Shake It Up grants, to find out what’s next for their work.  

Antisense oligonucleotides as a new therapeutic strategy in Parkinson’s disease 

“The next stage of my research is to utilise our highly efficient antisense drug, which we have developed to validate in various preclinical mouse models of Parkinson’s disease to see if they can improve symptoms and extend the survival of this mouse model. Hopefully we can roll out this antisense drug into a clinical trial in the near future.” 

  • Dr. Fazel Shabanpoor, Senior Research Fellow and head of the Peptide and Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Group at The Florey 

Repeat expansions and mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease 

“In science, it’s really important that your work is published and put out in the public domain – especially in front of other scientists, so they can evaluate your work and see that you’re on the right track. This is called peer review. We are currently writing up two pieces of work from our project, with initial results. Some interesting findings outline that there are a number of individuals who have been given a diagnosis of Parkinson’s but may actually have similar diseases that aren’t PD but are driven by very, very clear genetic risk factors for diseases that have a lot of overlap in their symptoms. That is an important finding as work on some of those diseases has progressed further, and in a way is a simpler explanation or solution to the causes of PD in a small subset of PD patients.”  

  • Professor Melanie Bahlo, Laboratory Head and Theme Leader at WEHI 

If you are still looking for a meaningful and memorable gift for your loved ones this year, we invite you to consider giving the gift of research with a donation to support Shake It Up. 100% of your donation goes directly to new, ground-breaking Parkinson’s research in Australia, thanks to our founding directors ongoing commitment to cover all overhead costs for the Foundation. As a special thank you, each donation made in December via this link will receive a free downloadable e-card for you to email or print to give to your loved one this Christmas. 

As Michael J. Fox once said, “Cures don’t just fall out of the sky. We have to go up and get them.” With your continued support, we are aiming to do just that. 

We wish you a very happy and healthy festive season from all of us here at Shake It Up Australia Foundation. 

Kind regards, 

Vicki Miller