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MRC issues Parkinson's grant

MRC issues Parkinson's grant
23rd April 2014

A group of scientists have been awarded with a grant to investigate potential new treatments for Parkinson's' disease.

Based at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, the team will received £500,000 from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to conduct this study, Medical Express reports.

Dr Kim Tieu, who will lead the scientists, said: "We are so thrilled that the MRC has recognised the importance of this work and has agreed to fund it.

"This support also speaks volumes about our outstanding team and research environment. I am very fortunate to have high-calibre collaborators such as Dr Robert Fern, Dr Charles Affourtit and Dr Erwan Bezard to join me in this research."

They will focus primarily on mitochondria, small structures that act as the generators of nerve cells - keeping them health and in working order.

Mitochondria are known to go through changes known as fission - which causes them to get smaller and multiple - and fusion, which results in larger forms.

It is believed that a balance between the two is the key to keeping mitochondria in the best shape possible, so the researchers will look to see if drugs and therapies can have any effect.

The researchers hope they will be able to improve the functionality of nerve cells that produce dopamine, using experimental models for their study.

A Parkinson's disease patient will generally suffer symptoms related to their movement, which is mainly caused by the death of these nerve cells.

This, in turn, leads to a lack of dopamine in the body, which makes it difficult for the remaining nerve cells to communicate with one another - thus making it difficult for the body to operate effectively.

One in every 500 individuals have Parkinson's, which means there are more than 127,000 cases in the UK alone. Furthermore, someone is diagnosed with the disease every hour.

The majority of people are over 50 years old when they start developing symptoms, although one in 20 are under the age of 40.

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