The University of Sheffield and the charity Parkinson’s UK are working together to modify a number of drug compounds that have been found to boost cell function in people living with Parkinson’s.
The project is led by Dr Heather Mortiboys and her team from the university’s Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) and its Neuroscience Institute.
Funding of £100,000 has been provided by the Virtual Biotech Programme – Parkinson’s UK’s drug development arm.
Dopamine-containing brain cells – vital for healthy coordination and movement – rely on energy-producing mitochondria to function.
In people living with Parkinson’s, however, the mitochondria are disrupted and the cells begin to fail and slowly die.
Mortiboys and her team have identified a number of drug compounds which could boost the function of these dopamine-containing brain cells.
Their previous research utilised recently developed methods to grow these brain cells from the skin cells of patients with Parkinson’s disease, and importantly they developed a way to generate them in high numbers – something never achieved before – to test the identified drug compounds on these patient-derived cells.
Researchers isolated a number of these compounds which were found to boost the mitochondrial function in these dopamine-producing brain cells and potentially reduce cell death; the cause of Parkinson’s symptoms such as loss of movement, tremors and rigidity.
Over the next 12 months, they hope to identify a lead molecule from the compounds which has the most beneficial effects on mitochondrial function of the brain cells.
They then hope to progress it along the drug discovery pipeline with partners at the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre.
It is hoped this new work will lead to the development of a treatment which will protect these brain cells, slow the progression of Parkinson’s and extend the quality of life for people living with the disease.
Mortiboys, says: “The partnership between our team and Parkinson’s UK could lead to a UK first in the development of treatments for Parkinson’s, putting our research one step closer to pioneering a breakthrough treatment for Parkinson’s patients.
“All the clinical treatments for people living with Parkinson’s at the moment are based on easing these sometimes-devastating symptoms.
“With this new funding award through the Virtual Biotech Programme, we have the potential to go on to develop a drug treatment which will actively address the root cause of these symptoms to slow, or halt the progression of Parkinson’s for the first time.”
Richard Morphy, drug discovery manager at Parkinson’s UK, said: “This is an exciting new approach that could rescue defective mitochondria inside neurons to prevent dysfunction and degeneration of dopamine-producing brain cells.
“With 148,000 people living with Parkinson’s in the UK, there is a desperate need for new and better treatments for Parkinson’s. We hope the project will identify a superior group of molecules that could one day deliver a life-changing drug for people living with the condition.”
Neuro Rehab Times is the magazine for all professionals involved in the care and rehabilitation of people with Parkinson’s – alongside other neurological conditions and severe injuries. Get your copy, filled with exclusive print-only content, every quarter for just £24.99 per year.
Video: everyday vs specialist tech
Assistive technology Expert Andy Fell joins Irwin Mitchell law firm for an in-depth exploration of the very latest independence-boosting devices and platforms.
Technology plays a day to day role in our lives and mobile phones, tablets, Alexa and Siri are common place.
Imagine the impact on your life if you were no longer able to interact with a touch screen or keyboard or give voice commands….
In this virtual event, Assistive Technology expert Andy Fell gives practical demonstrations of how everyday technology and specialist technology can be used to help give independence to those who need it most and why specialist technology may be needed.
During the event hosted by Lauren Haas, personal injury solicitor at Irwin Mitchell LLP, Andy goes into detail about what apps and gadgets are on the market, how everyday technology can be optimised such as the Amazon Alexa, and answered a number of questions ranging from touch screen sensitivity to smart watch reminders.
Case managers, ancillary medical professionals, as well as interested members in healthcare, social care, parents and clients may find this recording useful, as well as anyone caring for, working or living with people such as dementia sufferers or sufferers of other conditions which restrict their mobility.
Andy Fell is an independent disability and assistive technology (AT) consultant with almost twenty years’ experience working with all disabilities and age groups.
He is a qualified Rehabilitation Officer for the Visually Impaired and, since qualification, has lectured on the use of assistive technology and role of AT in the life of disabled people.
He has worked with a wide range of charitable organisations including British Dyslexia Association, was head of assistive technology for Guide Dogs for the Blind and National Disability Advisor for the Royal Yacht Association.
He has also worked for blue chip companies, the emergency services and various government departments including Department for Work and Pensions.
Andy is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, chairman and founding trustee of the Wetwheels Foundation and sat on the British Dyslexia Association – Workplace Assessors Professional Review Panel.
The relationship between music and running
By Daniel Thomas, joint managing director of Chroma Therapies.
By Daniel Thomas, joint managing director of Chroma Therapies
With its ability to produce new neural pathways, Neurologic Music Therapy is able to encourage movement, co-ordination, improve speech and language, and improve the ability to read/feel emotions, reactions and more, in people living with catastrophic injuries.
This is because music automatically connects to the brain. And this automaticity is what makes music so powerful.
Music also has to ability to push your training capabilities farther and faster especially in running.
This is why a running playlist is the ideal accompaniment to any runner.
Each songs tempo stimulates the brain, evoking a running response of either a faster pace or a steady rhythm depending on what you want to achieve.
For a faster pace, a good running playlist should contain songs with 150-180bpm.
Unfortunately, with not many songs out there using that speed (unless you enjoy rock, metal or speed garage for running) than the other option is to choose songs with 75-90bpm, as this tempo is perfect for a steady rhythm and maximising efficiency.
Do you recall an earlier blog where we discussed cadence and stride length using NMT for preventing falls in the elderly?
We suggested music with a high bpm count promotes movement, good cadence and walking speed, so songs like Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots are Made for Walkin’, which has 85 bpm, is ideal.
BPM strongly correlates to step cadence.
Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation (RAS) is an important aspect of NMT.
Predictable rhythmic structure allows the sensori-motor system to move in sync with the beat.
This is, in essence, why music is important to runners, as it has the ability to communicate with the brain in order to help maintain a steady pace or increase speed depending on the bpm.
When it comes to mental wellbeing, we will always discuss music’s ability to improve mental wellbeing, and its effect can also be attributed to runners.
Music’s ability to improve stride, cadence and style, to produce better and better runs, and enable runners to achieve personal goals also have a positive effect upon mental wellbeing.
A sense of accomplishment. And with the right playlist, runners can end each run on a high.
We also like to discuss how NMT is more effective when it is personalised to that individual.
The same can be said in the case of a runner. A playlist that includes, not only songs with the ideal tempo for them, but also have some personal meaning, have the greatest positive effect upon runners.
The more enjoyable the run, the less fatigue is experienced. This may be due to the fact that music is able to interfere with the parts of the brain that communicate fatigue, essentially causing a distraction, so less fatigue is experienced.
For runners, the relationship between music and running can be seen to be just as effective and important as the relationship between music and recovering from a brain injury.
Its ability to improve running capability, speed, motivation, and promote mental wellbeing is what makes the difference between a run just being a run and reaching ‘Flow State’ – the mental state where the runner is in the moment of running – no distractions, and the run becomes…euphoric.
Concussion could lead to depression, ADHD, dementia and Parkinson’s – study
A new study has revealed a link between concussion and the risk of being diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, mood and anxiety disorders, dementia and Parkinson’s disease later in life.
Despite ‘clinical recovery’ from concussion typically lasting one week, a team of researchers from the University of Manitoba suspected there may be longer term effects. They used 25 years of population-based health data between 1990 and 2015, involving almost 50,000 cases of concussion from people living in Manitoba, Canada.
They found that concussion was associated with an increased risk of being diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mood and anxiety disorders (MADs), dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
After analysing the population data, they found that concussion was linked to an increased risk of diagnosis of ADHD, dementia and Parkinson’s.
Women who had a concussion were at greater risk of developing ADHD and MADs, but there were no differences between men and women for the risk of developing dementia or Parkinson’s.
Multiple concussions didn’t affect the risk of later being diagnosed with ADHD, but a second concussion increased the risk of dementia, while exposure to more than three concussions increased the risk of being diagnosed with MADs.
While previous studies have found links between concussion and ADHD, dementia, Parkinson’s and MADs, most have relied on patients self-reporting their symptoms, the researchers write.
However, this study can only show an association, not cause and effect.
The mechanism behind this increased risk is unknown, but the researchers state it’s possible that the pathways of some biomarkers that are dysregulated in ADHD, Mads, dementia and Parkinson’s, namely, cortisol, are also affected after a concussion.
The paper, published in the BMJ journal, states that future research is needed to explore the relationships between concussion and ADHD, MADs, dementia and Parkinson’s in other populations.
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