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Scripps Research scientist awarded $500,000 grant to study Parkinson's disease
Date:10/26/2011

JUPITER, FL, October 26, 2010 The Scripps Research Institute has been awarded a $500,000 grant by the Michael J. Fox Foundation to study a pair of genetic mutations that could lead to a new and potentially vital therapeutic target for Parkinson's disease, a progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disorder.

Philip LoGrasso, PhD, a professor in molecular therapeutics and senior director for drug discovery at Scripps Florida, is the principal investigator for the project.

The study will focus on two genes, the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) and the serum glucocorticoid-regulated kinase 1 (SGK1). Genetic testing of several thousand Parkinson's patients has shown that the risk of Parkinson's disease associated with mutations in the LRRK2 gene are substantially reduced by mutations in the SGK1 genes, bringing the risk back in line with that of the general population.

"As a kinase, LRRK2 is the kind of molecule that drugmakers have a great deal of experience targeting. And as a significant genetic contributor to Parkinson's disease, it provides important therapeutic avenues for understanding the biological mechanisms and clinical aspects of PD," said Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. "Dr. LoGrasso's expertise in kinases and his well known work in developing novel treatments for Parkinson's disease will be a particularly valuable addition to the promising research already being carried out with funding from the Foundation."

SGK1 was discovered by 23andMe, Inc., a leading personal genetics company. The company currently has 125,000 genotyped customers, and nearly 90 percent have opted-in to participate in the company's Institutional Review Board-approved research. 23andMe has amassed the single largest Parkinson's research cohort in the world, which now comprises approximately 6,000 participants and includes one of the largest cohorts of individuals carrying the pathogenic mutations in the LRRK2 gene.
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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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