Visual clue to new Parkinson's disease therapies

May 15, 2014
Immunohistochemistry for alpha-synuclein showing positive staining (brown) of an intraneural Lewy-body in the Substantia nigra in Parkinson's disease. Credit: Wikipedia

A biologist and a psychologist at the University of York have joined forces with a drug discovery group at Lundbeck in Denmark to develop a potential route to new therapies for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease (PD).

Dr Chris Elliott, of the Department of Biology, and Dr Alex Wade, of the Department of Psychology, have devised a technique that could both provide an of the disease and result in therapies to mitigate its symptoms.

In research reported in Human Molecular Genetics, they created a more sensitive test which detected neurological changes before degeneration of the nervous system became apparent.

In laboratory tests using , the researchers discovered that a human genetic mutation that causes Parkinson's amplified visual signals in young flies dramatically. This resulted in loss of vision in later life.

Working with researchers from the Danish pharmaceutical company, H.Lundbeck A/S, they tested a new drug that targets the Parkinson's mutation in flies. This drug prevented the abnormal changes in the flies' visual function.

It is the first time that the compound has been used in vivo and its effectiveness was analysed using the new, sensitive technique devised by Dr Wade. This was originally used for measuring vision in people with eye disease and epilepsy.

Dr Elliott, who is part-funded by Parkinson's UK, said: "If this kind of drug proves to be successful in clinical trials, it would have the potential to bring long-lasting relief from PD symptoms and fewer side effects than existing levadopa therapy."

Dr Wade added: "This technique forms a remarkable bridge between human clinical science and animal research. If it proves successful in the future, it could open the door to a new way of studying a whole range of neurological diseases."

Senior Vice President, Research at Lundbeck, Kim Andersen, said: "This new research may prove to be groundbreaking in the understanding and treatment of Parkinson's disease. Science does not currently have answers for what happens in the brain before and during the disease, but these discoveries may bring us closer to this understanding. This may also give us the opportunity to revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson's disease, for the benefit of patients and their families."

Explore further: Research uncovers a potential link between Parkinson's and visual problems

More information: The paper 'Abnormal visual gain control in a Parkinson's Disease model' is published in Human Molecular Genetics hmg.oxfordjournals.org/content … 014/04/08/hmg.ddu159

Related Stories

Research uncovers a potential link between Parkinson's and visual problems

February 15, 2013
The most common genetic cause of Parkinson's is not only responsible for the condition's distinctive movement problems but may also affect vision, according to new research by scientists at the University of York.

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

April 18, 2014
A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

New concept may explain vision problems in Parkinson's disease

May 6, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Are patients with Parkinson's disease "blind to blindsight?" That's not a trick question, but the focus of an inquiry by neuroscientists from Rush University Medical Center as well as the Centre Hospitalier ...

Researchers investigating genetics of Parkinson's disease

March 11, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine will study individuals with genetic mutations associated with Parkinson's disease (PD) as part of the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), ...

Grant for research that could lead to new therapies for Parkinson's Disease

April 22, 2014
A team of scientists led by researchers at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, has received a grant from the Medical Research Council (MRC) for work which could lead to new and effective therapies ...

Discovering Parkinson's cell mechanism

November 28, 2013
A new doctoral thesis from University of Stavanger suggests possible explanations of how a specific protein associated with Parkinson's disease (DJ-1) might be implicated in the onset of the disease.

Recommended for you

A new insight into Parkinson's disease protein

July 28, 2017
Abnormal clumps of certain proteins in the brain are a prominent feature of Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases, but the role those same proteins might play in the normal brain has been unknown.

Waterlogged brain region helps scientists gauge damage caused by Parkinson's disease

July 26, 2017
Scientists at the University of Florida have discovered a new method of observing the brain changes caused by Parkinson's disease, which destroys neurons important for movement. The development suggests that fluid changes ...

Parkinson's is partly an autoimmune disease, study finds

June 21, 2017
Researchers have found the first direct evidence that autoimmunity—in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues—plays a role in Parkinson's disease, the neurodegenerative movement disorder. The findings raise ...

Predicting cognitive deficits in people with Parkinson's disease

June 20, 2017
Parkinson's disease (PD) is commonly thought of as a movement disorder, but after years of living with PD approximately twenty five percent of patients also experience deficits in cognition that impair function. A newly developed ...

Pre-clinical study suggests Parkinson's could start in gut endocrine cells

June 15, 2017
Recent research on Parkinson's disease has focused on the gut-brain connection, examining patients' gut bacteria, and even how severing the vagus nerve connecting the stomach and brain might protect some people from the debilitating ...

Hi-res view of protein complex shows how it breaks up protein tangles

June 15, 2017
Misfolded proteins are the culprits behind amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other neurodegenerative brain disorders. These distorted proteins are unable to perform their normal ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.