Neurotrophic factors are small proteins that are naturally produced in the brain to help nurture and protect nerve cells (neurons); Cure Parkinson’s is a strong supporter of research exploring neurotrophic factors as a future therapeutic strategy for Parkinson’s.

Our previous neurotrophic factor projects have included the Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) clinical trial that was conducted in Bristol. GDNF is a member of a much larger family of neurotrophic factors and Cure Parkinson’s is keen to see a wider exploration of other neurotrophic factors for Parkinson’s.

Now, Cure Parkinson’s is pleased to announce the funding of a research grant to Professors Aideen Sullivan and Gerard O’Keeffe from the University College, Cork in Ireland to investigate the effects of the neurotrophic factor Growth/Differentiation Factor 5 (or GDF5) in models of Parkinson’s.

The research team in Ireland will be comparing the therapeutic efficacy of GDF5 to that of GDNF in different rodent models of Parkinson’s. They will also be investigating the combined brain delivery of GDF5 and GDNF.

Another aspect of the project will look at the impact GDF5 has against the toxic effects of alpha synuclein build up in models of Parkinson’s. Alpha synuclein is believed to play an influential role in neuron death associated with Parkinson’s and the research team is keen to understand if GDF5 can prevent alpha synuclein associated neurodegeneration.

This new project builds on Cure Parkinson’s strong track record of supporting neurotrophic factor research and continues an extremely impressive research programme by Professors Sullivan and O’Keeffe at the University College, Cork. Over the last decade they have contributed significantly to the field of Parkinson’s research, most recently with the publication of a study investigating GDF5 in a model of Parkinson’s.

It is important not to have all of our eggs in one basket, so it is really exciting for us to be supporting research on another neurotrophic factor in addition to GDNF. This research will hopefully provide new insights and expand our future therapeutic options.

Dr Simon Stott, Deputy Director of Research, Cure Parkinson’s

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