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MSU Researchers Awarded Grant to Help Silence Parkinsonís Disease

Two Michigan State University (MSU) neuroscience researchers have received a $165,000 grant from the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) to help develop new therapeutic treatment for this chronic, progressive brain disorder that affects nearly one million people in the United States and seven to ten million worldwide.

Kathy Steece-Collier, Ph.D., professor, and Fredric P. Manfredsson, Ph.D., assistant professor, both in the Department of Translational Science & Molecular Medicine in MSU’s College of Human Medicine, are investigating whether “silencing” the genetic machinery in specific nerve cells in the brain could prevent the development of levodopa-induced dyskinesias (LIDs)—abnormal involuntary movements that often result as a side effect of levodopa, a medication used to treat motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). LIDs can be painful and disabling, and can interfere with daily activities. Effective clinical treatment options for LIDs are currently lacking.

Work in Steece-Collier’s lab has provided evidence that excess activity of calcium channels on nerve cells may be involved in the development of LIDs.

“We can silence genes in nerve cells by using viruses to infect the nerve cell,” Manfredsson said.

Manfredsson’s research team has found that they can reengineer these viruses so they are no longer able to replicate and no longer pose any danger to the treated individual. These viruses contain only the genetic material needed to stop the nerve cell from making CaV1.3 calcium channels.

“Determining whether CaV1.3 channels are an effective anti-dyskinetic target will provide critical scientific rationale that could be useful in designing clinical trials of current and new-generation calcium channel blocking drugs specifically for preventing LIDs, with the overall potential of improving the quality of life for the millions of PD patients worldwide,” Steece-Collier said.

“Drs. Steece-Collier and Manfredsson are doing cutting-edge research aimed at improving the lives of Parkinson’s disease patients. Their project will help to develop new approaches to reducing the severity of side effects caused by one of the few effective drug treatments for Parkinson’s disease,” said James Galligan, professor and director of MSU’s Neuroscience Program. “Their work will continue to put MSU at the forefront of neuroscience research on the causes of, and cures for, Parkinson’s disease.”

MSU is among the more than 30 investigator-initiated research projects recently chosen to receive a portion of $1.3 million in funding to help solve, treat and end PD. For a complete list of awards, visit http://prn.to/1t5vnrD.

The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, founded in 1957, is a leading national presence in Parkinson’s disease research, education and public advocacy.

Source Date: Aug 18 2014
Source Publication: Michigan State University News
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