Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most devastating neurodegenerative conditions. Although dopamine replacement treatment or deep brain stimulation can give remarkable temporary benefit to many patients, there is still no cure and it is not yet possible to significantly slow the progression of the disease.
However, in recent years we have seen a remarkable progress in the understanding of the genetic, molecular and cellular underpinnings of the disorder, and new treatments may be within reach in the not too distant future.
Supported by a major private donation and research grants from the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) and EU worth more than 2,5 Million Euro, the Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research and the German Center for Neurodegenerative diseases (DZNE) in Tübingen have established the Defeat Parkinson’s Research Platform. Clinical and pre-clinical researchers will be joining forces to use cutting edge molecular, genetic, cell biologic and computational technologies to better understand the complex mechanisms underlying the disorder and to develop novel biomarkers and treatments.
In the Defeat Parkinson’s Research Platform we will work together in an interdisciplinary team to explore how genetic variability leads to alterations in cellular and molecular processes that define disease risk and progression. To achieve this goal, we will join forces with our international collaborators (http://pdgenetics.org/) to investigate the entire genomic variation in large groups of affected and at-risk individuals with next-generation sequencing technologies and correlate this data with transcriptome and epigenome information to build gene expression models. We will then explore how these changes alter cellular processes by high content/high throughput analysis, even at the single cell level, use novel computational approaches to integrate these findings in complex models. With our expert knowledge on disease modeling in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSc) and animal models we will then investigate selected genes in depth and bring our knowledge back to our patients to discover and validate novel biomarkers and treatments.
Through the enthusiasm of our teams, with the input of numerous collaborators and the help of generous funders we are confident that we will make a difference to PD research and find new treatments that better the lives of our patients and eventually will lead to a cure or even prevention of PD.