CNS and Molecular Sciences, Astex Pharmaceuticals and University of Dundee
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease brought about primarily, but not only, by the progressive degeneration of the dopaminergic neurones of the substantia nigra. The loss of these neurons results in a range of symptoms such as shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty walking. Although symptomatic therapies are available, they are associated with long term side effects and no treatments currently prevent or slow the progression of the disease.
Familial PD has been linked to mutations in a number of genes whose proteins function in diverse cellular pathways such as mitochondrial quality control (including mitophagy, a selective form of autophagy) and intracellular trafficking. In collaboration with the University of Dundee, this project used a variety of structural and biophysical techniques to probe the structure-function aspects of PD-associated proteins, and thereby gain insights into the links between disease-causing mutations and their potential role in disease pathology and etiology.