Parkinson's UK award to look into role of alpha-synuclein

CRM group leader Professor Tilo Kunath has been awarded a grant from Parkionson's UK to look into the normal role of a protein alpha-synuclein.

The development of Parkinson’s has been closely linked to the buildup alpha-synuclein, which can form clumps in brain cells and stop them functioning. Research to date has focused on reducing levels of alpha-synuclein in the brain. But little is known about the normal function of this protein. Dr Kunath and his team want to use live imaging technology to find out more about the normal job of alpha-synuclein, which could help give us clues as to why it might go wrong, and how to prevent this.

The research team will examine how the protein behaves when it’s exposed to viruses and toxins. They will also investigate whether certain drugs can improve the waste disposal system in brain cells, stopping proteins, like alpha-synucein, from building up.

There are four factors that might trigger damage or make it worse for people with Parkinson’s - viral infection, exposure to environmental toxins, poor cellular waste disposal and an individual’s genes. Looking at them in combination will enable us to build a complete and accurate model of Parkinson’s in a dish. That’s important because we can use this model to predict which new medicines are most likely to work in people, speeding up the process of making new treatments available for Parkinson’s.

Professor Tilo Kunath, CRM Group Leader

Article in The Herald

Kunath Research Group

Parkionson's UK