Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are caused by a gradual deterioration and death of brain cells in the substantia nigra part of the brain. However, people with Parkinson’s can lose up to 70% of susceptible brain cells and go on for many years before symptoms become noticeable.
The goal of our research is to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease, and ultimately, improve health outcomes for individuals living with Parkinson's.
Our research approaches
First, we are working to understand how differences in a person’s genetic makeup can make them more susceptible to Parkinson’s disease. We are doing this by analysing tissue from people with genes known to predispose them to Parkinson’s disease. Early changes in cells in laboratory cultures are also being assessed.
Second, a core factor in Parkinson’s disease (as well as Mitochondrial disease) is that brain cells cannot generate sufficient energy. We are looking at ways to improve that function and slow the process of degeneration.
Third, we will be conducting further research on how the disease proteins spread and how best to reduce that growth.
Our research discoveries
We know that creating a renewable source of energy in brain cells by overexpressing a specific protein can improve energy production and slow the rate of neurodegeneration. In future, patients with genetic forms of Parkinson’s may be able to actively prevent themselves from developing Parkinson’s disease while others can potentially improve their condition if they already have it.
Our research leaders in Parkinson's Disease
Professor Carolyn Sue AM
Kinghorn Chair, Neurodegeneration
Dr Claire Shepherd
Director Sydney Brain Bank
Professor Marie Dziadek
Principal Research Scientist
Dr Jasmine Menant
Senior Research Fellow