Dundee researchers win Parkinson’s UK funding

Researchers at the University of Dundee were today awarded over £90,000 from Parkinson’s UK to fund research which could shed light on the genetics behind Parkinson’s.

Dr Miratul Muqit and his colleagues will use state-of-the-art technology to study how a gene linked to Parkinson’s affects the cells in the brain.

One in 500 people in Dundee have Parkinson's, a condition which can leave people struggling to walk, speak and sleep. Across Scotland it affects about 10,000 people, yet there is no cure.

Parkinson’s occurs when nerve cells in the brain start to die. Even though it is understood that nerve cell death leads to Parkinson’s, the original cause remains unknown - and with it a cure.

Over the next three years, the team will be studying the effect of a gene named PINK1 which has been linked to Parkinson’s. This gene is vital for protecting mitochondria, the power-houses of cells. They will investigate what happens when brain cells no longer respond to PINK1, and if this can lead to Parkinson’s.

If successful, the researchers hope this study will help improve the understanding of how genes can lead to the condition and potentially help solve the mystery of what causes Parkinson’s. This could lead to new avenues of research and hopefully a cure.

 Dr Miratul Muqit, the lead researcher on the project at the University of Dundee, said, “In a cell you will see thousands of pathways, but we want to find the crucial ones. PINK1 is a gene that causes changes in the cells and we want to know if these changes disturb an essential pathway. We hope to create a road map of the pathways vital for the survival of brain cells. This way we can better understand how to diagnose and treat the condition.”

Dr Arthur Roach, Director of Research and Development at Parkinson’s UK, said, “Understanding the role of genes in Parkinson’s could be the key to discovering what causes some people to develop Parkinson’s, something that has remained unknown for so long. Funding projects like this in Dundee is crucial if we are to progress in our research and one day find a cure.”

For more information about Parkinson’s UK research, and to donate, visit parkinsons.org.uk/research

About Parkinson’s UK

Every hour, someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson's.

It affects 127,000 people in the UK - which is around one in 500 of the population.

Parkinson's is a degenerative neurological condition, for which there currently is no cure. The main symptoms of the condition are tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity.

Parkinson's UK is the UK's leading charity supporting those with the condition. Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's through cutting edge research, information, support and campaigning.

For advice, information and support, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk or call our free, confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303.

About the University of Dundee

The University of Dundee is the top ranked University in the UK for biological sciences, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

Dundee is internationally recognised for the quality of its teaching and research and has a core mission to transform lives across society. More than 17,000 students are enrolled at Dundee, helping make the city Scotland’s most student-friendly.

The University is the central hub for a multi-million pound biotechnology sector in the east of Scotland, which now accounts for 16% of the local economy. www.dundee.ac.uk


Roddy Isles
Head of Press
TEL: 01382 384910
MOBILE: 07800 581902
E-MAIL: r.isles@dundee.ac.uk