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Funded Studies

New tools for direct visualization of individual oligomers in human biofluids.


We have developed a completely new optical technique called SOAP imaging (single oligomers of amlyoidigenic proteins). This can be used to directly visualize the protein clumps (called oligomers) currently believed to be responsible for Parkinson’s Disease. We have already used this new tool observe an elevated number of oligomers in samples from patients with Parkinson’s disease when compared to age matched controls.  This study aims to develop this biophysical tool further increasing the ability to detect these oligomers and to clinically validate the method on a larger sample size provided by the MJFF.

Project Description:

In this study we aim to: (1) detect and quantify the oligomers found in PD compared to controls in order to determine the utility of this method as a new diagnostic test for PD. (2) To extract the oligomers and characterize the molecular identity, binding partners, and biophysical characteristics of the oligomers that are the disease signature for PD. By the end of the project we hope to have achieved a new diagnostic test and a biomarker that may track disease because it is a fundamental component of the disease process.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:  

There is no accepted clinical diagnostic test for Parkinson’s. Instead, diagnosis is based on post-mortem examination or clinical observations, by which time the disease is significantly advanced. This would represent the first time it is possible to chemically detect the disease causing species in Parkinson’s.

Next Steps for Development:

We need to prove our assay on a large sample set and use our new biophysical tools to help identify the species which correlate with disease. After this we will investigate using other, more readily accessible biofluids such as blood plasma.


  • Nicholas William Wood, MbChB, PhD, FRCP, FMedSci

    London United Kingdom

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