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Parkinson's researchers receive grant from Michael J Fox Foundation

Parkinson's researchers receive grant from Michael J Fox Foundation
25th July 2014

The bid to devise a cure for Parkinson's disease (PD) has received a welcome boost after it transpired the Michael J Fox Foundation had donated a sum a money to researchers.

Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University are hoping to find a treatment for the neurological condition that affects so many across the world. This project will test chemical compounds in the hope that an underlying cause of the disease can be effectively tackled. 

Principal investigator Dr Ana Maria Cuervo's research targets chaperone-mediated autophagy. This is the mechanism that cells use to break down and recycle the waste products. 

The reason for this area of focus is because in findings published last year, she found that CMA is made more difficult in the neurons of those with PD. As a result of this process being hindered, there is a build-up of toxic proteins, which is viewed to bring about the onset of the condition. 

In addition to this, Dr Cuervo's team of researchers noted how a signalling pathway can be honed in on to improve CMA and help to eradicate these toxic proteins. 

"While current therapies for Parkinson's help many people manage their symptoms, we are eager to stop or even reverse the disorder itself. The support we are receiving from The Michael J Fox Foundation is critically important for moving our insights from the lab into a workable treatment," Dr Cuervo said, who is also professor of developmental and molecular biology at the college.

Dr Evripidis Gavathiotis is working alongside Dr Cuervo in this scheme and he said the aim of this project was to develop a drug that adds credibility to what has been discovered - that "boosting CMA activity is a feasible option to treat Parkinson's".

According to Dr Vern Schramm from the college, scientists need to be more persistent and innovative to ensure medical breakthroughs kept happening and aren't hindered by a lack of funding.

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