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Thursday, 16th January 2020

DkIT study could help 6 million people with Parkinson’s Disease

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The Cross-Border BREATH Project Research Team pictured in Queen’s University Belfast (l-r) including Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body; Dr Lorcan McGarvey, Principal Investigator at QUB; Prof. Keith Thornbury, Principal Investigator at SMRC, DkIT; Prof. Mark Hollywood, Principal Investigator at SMRC, DkIT; Prof. Lorraine Martin, Principal Investigator at QUB; Prof. Gerard Sergeant, Principal Investigator at SMRC, DkIT)

Ground breaking international research, led by Dundalk Institute of Technology, may have identified a way to reduce the distressing tremors associated with Parkinson’s Disease.

The pioneering work could help develop innovative new treatments for the disease which effects 6 million people globally.

Around 12,000 people in Ireland have Parkinson’s, which is progressive and currently has no cure.

The tremors can be debilitating and leave people needing round the clock care.

This research looked at the role of a protein called LINGO1 and its regulatory effects.

LINGO1 is found in the brains of people with Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative disorders with symptoms including tremors.

Professor Mark Hollywood who lead the research by the  Smooth Muscle Research Centre (SMRC) at DkIT said, “these findings will have a significant impact on the understanding of the causes of tremor in Movement Disorders such as Parkinson’s.”

“They suggest a new target for the development of innovative therapeutics and strategies that could dramatically improve the lives of people living with these debilitating disorders in the future.”

The EU-INTERREG VA-funded study which included collaboration with University of Edinburgh, Queen’s University of Belfast and Reno School of Medicine (USA) was published this week in the leading scientific journal, ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America (PNAS)’.

The research could impact on the understanding of a number of other disorders of the nervous system.

Professor Mike Shipston, Dean of Biomedical Sciences and Professor of Physiology at University of Edinburgh, also collaborated in the study. He said, “by bringing together an international team with complementary skills, this multi-disciplinary study promises to reveal how therapeutic targeting of LINGO1 and BK channels in the future may help reduce the motor disorders associated with major disorders of the human brain.”

Dr Tim McCormac, Head of Research and Graduate Studies at DkIT said DkIT was proud to be part of “this ground-breaking discovery. DkIT’s lead role in the project is a testament to the outstanding research capability of the Institute, both in blue skies and translational research. This work further underlines the strategic importance of SMRC and the Health research agenda at DkIT.”

The study forms part of the cross-border research project BREATH (Borders and Regions Airways Training Hub) which is funded by the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU programmes body (SEUPB) and DkIT Research Office.

Commenting on the study Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, which manages the INTERREG VA Programme, said:

“The EU’s INTERREG VA Programme has invested significantly in the health and life sciences sector in order to support cross-border research work like this which has tremendous potential to positively impact the lives of many citizens.

“It is part of a project with partners based across Northern Ireland, Ireland and Western Scotland who by working together have been able to pool their knowledge, experience and expertise to shape an extremely important development in future healthcare. This is a truly inspirational discovery and I am delighted that the study is complete and has now been published.”

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