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Rigorous Research Creates Scientific Tools to Advance Parkinson's Therapies

Rigorous Research Creates Scientific Tools to Advance Parkinson's Therapies

Like any job, learning about disease and developing new treatments takes the right tools. The Michael J. Fox Foundation works with leading experts to create laboratory tools, enabling scientists to explore Parkinson's and create therapies.

A recent commentary piece in Biochemical Journal profiles "the latest outputs from a long-term collaboration between basic and clinical LRKK2 scientists and the MJFF -- a panel of exquisitely sensitive Rab antibodies."

The MJFF-funded team, led by Dario Alessi, PhD, of the University of Dundee, published two papers  on the antibodies in the same journal earlier this month.

Antibodies Measure Protein Activity
Antibodies have many uses in laboratory research. Much like your body's own natural antibodies mount a response to a bacteria or virus, the Rab antibodies respond to the Rab proteins, which helps scientists measure these proteins.

Rabs interest Parkinson's researchers because an MJFF-supported group linked them to the LRRK2 protein. LRRK2 is a priority target for our field because mutations in the gene that make this protein are one of the leading genetic contributors to Parkinson's disease. Using Rab antibodies, the scientists can assess LRRK2 activity.

The author of the commentary, Patrick Eyres, PhD, from the University of Liverpool, points out the utility of these antibodies in investigations toward greater understanding of the disease and testing of clinical interventions. This tool may be particularly important as the first human trial of a LRRK2 drug recently began and more are in development.

"As therapies try to address the increased LRRK2 activity we see in some people with Parkinson's disease, tools such as these Rab antibodies are invaluable in evaluating the efficacy of those drugs," said Nicole Polinski, PhD, a member of the MJFF research staff and an author on the antibodies paper.

Foundation Supports Critical Research Tools
In addition to providing such tools to the scientific community, MJFF and our partners pride ourselves on the quality of this work and its outputs. Eyres writes, "An overarching strength of the experiments reported in these papers is the rigorous analytical work undertaken."

That work continues as our LRRK2 Biology Consortium is already undertaking some of the next steps Eyres recommends -- testing the antibodies in different kinds of samples, for example.

While basic science seemingly removed from new and better treatments, projects such as these are the building blocks of disease understanding and development of cures and an example of the vital role MJFF plays in the field. Laboratory tools help scientists measure disease, which can lead to tests that indicate onset and/or progression. These tools and tests can measure the impact of therapies on the disease process, speeding development and testing of new therapies to patient hands.

Looking for antibodies for your research? Our Tools Catalog has more than 20 available across multiple targets, as well as other laboratory tools. Register for our clinician/researcher emails to be notified when the Rab antibodies are available.

Interested in participating in research to learn more about Parkinson's disease? Register for our matching tool Fox Trial Finder or make sure your profile is up to date.

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