PD is a worldwide problem with a particularly high incidence in China and Europe. As a result, research is being conducted in many countries to learn more about it, better ways of diagnosis, more effective treatments, and hopefully a cure. For many years the search has been on to identify biomarkers, early reliable signs of the disease, which will enable treatments to be developed to prevent or slow down the progression of the disease. Current research includes investigating the roles of iron and copper, the presence of a common protein alpha-synuclein in the spinal fluid and colon, the role of the LRRK2 protein in inherited PD, and studies of the impact, if any, of over 1100 other proteins found in the blood. Another focus of research is the possibility of using embryonic stem cells to make dopamine-producing neurons that could alleviate the symptoms of PD.
Research at the University of Nottingham & the Queen’s Medical Centre
The teams at Nottingham and Derby led by Dr. Nin Bajaj were awarded ‘Centre of Excellence’ status in 2008 by the US-based National Parkinson Foundation in recognition of their research strengths and clinical expertise. Substantial funding for research has been provided by the Medical Research Council, Parkinson’s UK, The Michael J. Fox Foundation, The Rosetrees Trust, and other organizations. Ancillary funding has been contributed by the NSG@QMC towards the costs of studentships, supplies, and other items.
Current research at Nottingham (see our Projects page):
Professor Dorothee Auer – “Developing better brain scans for Parkinson’s” – part of the largest ever in-depth UK study of PD funded by Parkinson’s UK
Professor Penny Gowland, Dr. Stefan Schwarz, and Professor Dorothee Auer – A potentially useful test for PD was discovered in 2013/14. Using MRI scanners researchers discovered that a small cluster of dopamine-producing cells known as nigrosome 1 in the midbrain of people with PD does not have the swallowtail appearance found in people without the disease.
Dr. Helen Miranda Knight – Understanding molecular epigenomic processes as factors that exacerbate neuronal dysfunction. This includes processes that regulate normal synaptic function in neurons, and which are disrupted in Dementia with Lewy bodies.