Every research project we fund is a step closer to new and better therapies for people with Parkinson's disease (PD). To keep you informed of the Foundation's research investments, we're highlighting a few exciting, newly funded grants each month. To learn more about these studies and the more than 500 active research projects that The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) is supporting, visit our Funded Grants page.
Imaging a Receptor Linked to Dyskinesia
Ioannis Ugo Isaias, MD, PhD
University of Würzburg, Germany
Receptor activity may be linked to dopamine activity and could reveal new drug target.
Recent studies suggest that nicotine may help ease levodopa-induced dyskinesia through its actions on nicotine receptors in the brain. To explore this idea further, Ioannis Isaias, MD, PhD, and his team will image brains of PD patients with and without dyskinesia and correlate levels of the nicotine receptor with dopamine activity. Results of the study could inform whether nicotine receptors play a role in the development of dyskinesias as well as clarify which patients may potentially benefit from treatments targeting this mechanism.
Visiting Your Doctor through a Screen
Kevin M. Biglan, MD, MPH
University of Rochester, New York
Video conferencing can expand scope of clinical research participation.
Distance, disability and the concentration of research centers in geographic pockets all limit volunteer participation in clinical trials. Web-based video conferencing can extend the reach of clinical studies directly into the home, reducing the burden on research participants and enabling broader participation. Kevin Biglan, MD, MPH, will invite a group of volunteers enrolled in MJFF’s Fox Trial Finder to participate in a virtual research visit with a Parkinson’s disease specialist in their state. Individuals will undergo a standard Parkinson’s disease examination, a test of cognition, and be asked about their willingness to participate in future research studies remotely. Successful demonstration of this approach could reduce study costs and increase the flow of urgently needed volunteers into future Parkinson’s disease studies.
Jide Tian, MD, MPH
University of California, Los Angeles
Harmless gut bacteria may boost immune system’s ability to block dopamine loss.
Inflammation in the brain is associated with Parkinson’s disease, and increased numbers of anti-inflammatory T cells (Tregs) have been shown to stop degeneration of dopamine cells in pre-clinical models. Clostridium leptum — a bacterium naturally found in the colon — can stimulate Treg expansion, which can inhibit inflammation. Jide Tian, MD, MPH, and colleagues are testing what dose and duration of oral feeding with Clostridium leptum increases Treg levels in the spleen in pre-clinical models. From there, the team will look at dopamine levels in the brain to measure any neuroprotective effects. If positive, their findings could lead to a new disease-modifying therapy for treating Parkinson’s.