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Michael J. Fox Foundation grant to Dr. Samuel Young will provide Parkinson's drug development tools
Date:5/3/2012

Samuel M. Young, Jr., PhD, research group leader at the new Max Planck Florida Institute (MPFI), has received his first grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF). The grant will enable Dr. Young and colleagues to develop a technology that will help scientists working in drug development to research potential treatments that target LRRK2, a Parkinson's-related gene. Globally, five million people have Parkinson's disease.

"We are excited about receiving The Michael J. Fox Foundation grant, as these grants are competitive and MJFF is the world's largest private funder of Parkinson's research," said Dr. Young, who directs MPFI's Molecular Mechanisms of Synaptic Function research group. "We believe that the tools we develop will prove important in advancing Parkinson's research."

Translational researchers working in Parkinson's disease have been hindered in studying the function of the LRRK2 gene in pre-clinical models of Parkinson's. This has been due to difficulty in expressing this gene with commonly used neuroscience research tools known as recombinant viral vectors. Dr. Young will develop tools that will allow researchers to get around this problem.

Mutations in the gene for leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are among the most common genetic links to Parkinson's disease yet discovered. LRRK2 has garnered much excitement among drug makers due to its reported protein kinase activity, which appears to be enhanced by Parkinson's disease-causing mutations.

"We are delighted that The Michael J. Fox Foundation has awarded Dr. Young with a grant to lead this critical project," said David Fitzpatrick, PhD, CEO and Scientific Director of MPFI. "This grant recognizes Dr. Young's specialized expertise, as well as our Institute's leadership role in neural circuit research."

Recombinant viral vectors are used by scientists to deliver genetic material into cells. Viruses have evolved speciali
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Contact: Dennis Tartaglia
dtartaglia@tartagliacommunications.com
732-545-1848
Tartaglia Communications
Source:Eurekalert

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