Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust

Research into Parkinson's Disease

We held a call for proposals in 2015, inviting researchers to submit new ideas relating to research into Parkinson’s disease.  The following four grants were awarded:

Identification of alpha-synuclein aggregates in human brain and peripheral tissues for Parkinson's disease diagnosis 

The toxic accumulation and aggregation of a protein called alpha-synuclein in brain cells is regarded as a key event in the onset of Parkinson’s disease.  This project will use an innovative approach to extract alpha-synuclein from patient biopsies and develop a test for abnormal aggregation with the ultimate aim of earlier diagnosis, identification of patients at high risk and finding new drugs that inhibit aggregation. 

Grant recipients: Professor Maria Grazia Spillantini

Amount awarded: £96,000 over two years

Multiparameter PET/MRI imaging for the study of Parkinson's disease dementia

Most older people with Parkinson’s disease go on to develop dementia. This project will determine whether a new MRI technique (MR relaxometry) developed by Dr Su and colleagues is sensitive enough to detect subtle changes in the brain and could be used as a diagnostic tool to distinguish Parkinson’s disease dementia from other dementia, together with the opportunity for cost savings compared to currently used scanning techniques. 

Grant recipients: Dr Li Su, Professor John Suckling and Dr Guy Williams

Amount awarded: £28,556 over two years

Starting to deorphanise Parkinson's disease genes

Knowing how some genes cause Parkinson’s disease is essential to develop new treatments. This project will improve understanding about relevant genes involved in autophagy (a biological housekeeping process that cleans up unwanted proteins) and will focus on what goes wrong with alpha-synuclein, a protein normally degraded by autophagy, but which accumulates to toxic levels in Parkinson’s disease. 

Grant recipient: Professor David Rubinsztein

Amount awarded: £100,000 over two years

The role of peripheral inflammation and immunosenescence in Parkinson’s disease and its associated dementia 

About half of Parkinson’s patients develop dementia which is one of the most devastating aspects.  Some patients progress more quickly than others, which may relate to differences in activity within the immune system. This project will test whether a more active immune response to alpha-synuclein (the key protein implicated in causing Parkinson’s disease) drives faster disease progression and earlier onset of dementia.

Grant recipients: Dr Caroline Williams-Gray (pictured above right), Professor Roger Barker, Reverend Professor Alasdair Coles, Dr Menna Clatworthy and Dr Joanne Jones

Amount awarded: £99,984 over two years