The science behind Parkinson’s
Finding a cure – our major research areas
Elsewhere, several research groups are testing immunotherapies (or vaccines) against the Parkinson’s hallmark protein. Immunotherapy is a method of directing our immune system to mount defences against specific pathogens or rogue proteins such as the mis-folded alpha-synuclein protein which is a common biological feature of Parkinson’s. Clinical trials of potential vaccines against alpha-synuclein are underway.
Elsewhere, a biotech company is running a gene therapy trial to introduce a functional version of the GBA-1 gene into the brains of people with Parkinson’s who carry the GBA-1 mutation.
Neuron survival and replacement
In addition to research targeted at the biochemical pathways involved in Parkinson’s, there are also exciting ‘wholesale’ approaches underway.
Some of these strategies aim to nourish and protect dopamine neurons by introducing neurotrophic factors. A clinical study in Bristol has investigated the neuroprotective protein GDNF, which was co-funded by Cure Parkinson’s.
Another avenue of great interest is cell replacement therapy; introducing functional healthy dopamine neurons deep into the brain. Cure Parkinson’s is supporting TRANSEURO, a Europe-wide trial testing dopamine cell replacement therapies with foetal-derived dopamine neurons in 13 people with Parkinson’s. Other trials are underway around the world using dopamine neurons grown from stem cells.