New money for UQ Parkinson’s research

6 Mar 2015

A University of Queensland research team has been awarded a grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to target brain inflammation in people with Parkinson’s disease.

The team was the only Australian research group supported in the latest round of grants jointly provided by The Michael J. Fox Foundation and its major Australian funding partner, Shake It Up Australia Foundation.

Research leader Associate Professor Trent Woodruff, from UQ’s School of Biomedical Sciences, said the grant of almost $300,000 would help his team identify, develop and test new drugs to reduce brain cell death in people with Parkinson’s disease.

“There is mounting evidence that people with Parkinson’s develop brain inflammation, which accompanies the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells seen in the disease,” Associate Professor Woodruff said.

“Our aim is to find a medication that will target the immune response that causes inflammation in the brain, to slow down and hopefully halt disease progression.”

While the research is yet to reach human trials, Associate Professor Woodruff said early results in several pre-clinical models had been very promising.

“Our hope for the future is to take these drugs into human clinical trials for Parkinson’s treatment, and we are very grateful to The Michael J. Fox and Shake It Up Australia foundations for funding our research,” he said.

UQ collaborator Professor Matt Cooper, from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, said the group had been working with leading Australian and international researchers to identify novel compounds able to block immune responses in the brain.

“This is a potential breakthrough in our search for Parkinson’s therapies,” Professor Cooper said.

Shake it Up Australia CEO Ben Young said the project took Shake It Up’s funding commitment to Australian Parkinson’s research to more than $1.8 million since it was established.

“This grant is further affirmation of the world-class Parkinson’s research being done in Australia and, with continued support, we are confident that Australian researchers will play a vital role in the quest for better treatments and, ultimately, a cure.

“On behalf of the Parkinson’s community, we congratulate Associate Professor Woodruff and his team, and we wish them every success.”

The research collaboration comprises researchers from across UQ, including Associate Professor Woodruff and Dr Richard Gordon from the School of Biomedical Sciences and Professor Cooper, Dr Kate Schroder and Dr Avril Robertson from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Media: Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Media Manager Bernadette Condren, +61 7 3346 5309,  IMB Marketing and Communications Manager Gemma Ward, 0439 651 107,