Parkinson’s NZ excited about Auckland research discovery

Press Release – Parkinson’s New Zealand

Media Release
Parkinson’s New Zealand
28 February 2017

Parkinson’s New Zealand excited about Auckland research discovery

Parkinson’s New Zealand is excited about new evidence on how Parkinson’s spreads through the brain.

The evidence published 24 February in Scientific Reports – Nature reveals that proteins known as Lewy bodies in Parkinson’s could be spread from cell to cell.

The discovery made by researchers at the University of Auckland’s Centre for Brain Research provides evidence on how Parkinson’s develops and will help lead to new treatments.

“Parkinson’s New Zealand is delighted that the commitment and dedication shown by our friends and partners, Dr Victor Dieriks and Dr Maurice Curtis and the team at the Centre for Brain Research, have led to this ground breaking research discovery. We are excited about the hope this study will bring to the 13,000 New Zealanders living with Parkinson’s,” said Parkinson’s New Zealand Chief Executive Deirdre O’Sullivan.

“This evidence about the pathways of Parkinson’s at a cellular level provides insight into how Parkinson’s progresses and opportunities for the development of new treatments that can intervene. We are extremely proud that this world leading work is being done in New Zealand as a result of New Zealand fundraising.”

Associate Professor Curtis, who leads research on Parkinson’s at the Centre for Brain Research, said the new evidence is the first proof, using donated human brains, of the mechanism that cells use to spread the Lewy bodies in a person affected by Parkinson’s.

Dr Curtis said while the research had only been contacted in cells and not live brains, he was very proud of his team’s work including that of post-doctoral researcher and lead author Dr Dieriks.

Parkinson’s New Zealand board member Judy Clarke has been living with Parkinson’s for 11 years.

“It’s great that New Zealand is playing such an active role in Parkinson’s research,” said Mrs Clarke.

“Researchers and people with Parkinson’s are getting together to make progress in understanding Parkinson’s. Hopefully we can find something that will make it go away.”

The work was made possible by the Centre’s Human Brain Bank initiative supported by Parkinson’s New Zealand as well as through funding from the Neuro Research Charitable Trust.

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurodegenerative condition. It is caused by insufficient quantities of dopamine – a chemical in the brain. Dopamine enables quick, well-coordinated movement. When dopamine levels fall, movements become slow and awkward. Parkinson’s has both motor and non-motor symptoms, and while it cannot be cured it can be treated.


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