Navigation Links
Scripps Research scientist awarded $500,000 grant to study Parkinson's disease

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.

With this award Dr. LoGrasso joins the LKRR2 Consortium, established last year by the Michael J. Fox Foundation. The consortium is an international group of academic and industry partners dedicated to accelerating LRRK2 therapeutic development.

"I want to thank the Fox Foundation for their generous grant," LoGrasso said, "and for giving me the opportunity to study the links between these intriguing genetic mutations. The question our laboratory will explore is how SGK1 works and how it impacts the LRRK2 mutation. We're all hoping that ultimately this produces a new target for treatment intervention because there are no viable long-term treatments available today."

Since the 1960s the mainstay for the treatment of Parkinson's disease has been levodopa (L-DOPA), a drug that provides only symptomatic relief. Unfortunately, L-DOPA loses efficacy over time and has numerous side effects that limit its effectiveness.

Patients with Parkinson's disease suffer from a loss of dopaminergic neurons in a specific area of the brain. An estimated one million Americans are believed to suffer from the disease, according to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation; approximately 40,000 new cases are reported annually.

The LRRK2 gene was first linked to Parkinson's disease in 2004, and many believe it to be the most common genetic contributing factor to the disease. While hereditary forms of the disease are relatively rare an estimated five to 10 percent unlocking the mechanisms involved in both LRRK2 and SGK1 could eventually benefit all patients.

Mutations in the LRRK2 gene have been linked with an increased risk not only of Parkinson's disease, but also of Crohn's disease. SGK1 is involved in a number of biomolecular processes including inflammation, cell proliferation, and apoptosis or programmed cell death. It is believed that the gene also plays a role in brain disorders other than Parkinson's disease, such as schizophrenia, depression, and Alzheimer's disease.


Contact: Mika Ono
Scripps Research Institute

Related biology news :

1. Scripps research team solves structure of beneficial virus
2. Scripps research team sheds light on immune system suppression
3. Scripps Florida scientists awarded $1.5M to fight major water and food parasites
4. Scripps research scientists identify compounds for stem-cell production from adult cells
5. Scripps research scientists identify blood component that turns bacteria virulent
6. Scripps research team defines new painkilling chemical pathway
7. Dolphin population stunted by fishing activities, Scripps/NOAA study finds
8. Scripps Research scientists shed light on how DNA is unwound so that its code can be read
9. Scripps scientists develop first examples of RNA that replicates itself indefinitely
10. Scripps scientists create first crystal structure of an intermediate particle in virus assembly
11. Historical photographs expose decline in Floridas reef fish, new Scripps study finds
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/9/2015)...  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ), the leading ... into the automotive market with a comprehensive and dedicated ... consumer electronics human interface innovation. Synaptics, industry-leading touch controllers, ... automotive industry and will be implemented in numerous locations ... , Japan , and ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... , Nov. 2, 2015  SRI International has ... to provide preclinical development services to the National Cancer ... SRI will provide scientific expertise, modern testing and support ... of preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies to evaluate potential ... --> The PREVENT Cancer Drug Development Program is ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  The J. Craig ... report titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and ... Department of Health and Human Services guidance for synthetic ... 2010. --> --> ... also has the potential to pose unique biosecurity threats. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... Md. , Nov. 30, 2015 ... development company committed to the fostering and monetization ... the current and prospective initiatives designed to create ... Chief Executive Officer of Spherix. "Based on published ... future licensees exceeds $50 billion and Spherix will ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015  Champions Oncology, Inc. (CSBR), ... services to personalize the development and use of oncology ... Executive Officer, will be presenting at the LD MICRO ... Pacific Standard Time (PST).  The conference, held at the ... Angeles, CA , will feature 200 small/micro-cap companies ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... 30, 2015 TapImmune, Inc. ... of innovative peptide and gene-based immunotherapeutics and vaccines for ... it will be presenting at the 8 th ... at 2.30 PM PT. Dr. John N. Bonfiglio ... be giving the presentation and will join TapImmune management ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015  Aytu BioScience, Inc. (OTCQB: ... and related conditions, will present at two upcoming investor ... an interactive real-time virtual conference, to be held December ... Conference, to be held December 2 nd & ... and streamed live via webcast. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: