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The Michael J. Fox Foundation Awards $2 Million to Shed Light on Role of LRRK2 and Alpha-Synuclein Genes in Parkinson's Disease
Date:1/15/2008

nd Chris Rochet, PhD, of Purdue University will determine which modified forms of alpha-synuclein have the greatest effects on aggregation and toxicity to dopamine neurons. A third investigator, Deniz Kirik, MD, PhD, of Lund University in Sweden, will test the hypothesis that the toxicity of alpha-synuclein may be enhanced by interaction with dopamine itself, which might help further explain the selective vulnerability of these cells in PD.

The four investigators awarded under the LRRK2 challenge all seek to test whether an abnormal increase in LRRK2's enzymatic function triggers toxicity. Chenjian Li, PhD, of Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Zhenyu Yue, PhD, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine are each developing mice genetically engineered to express mutant forms of the LRRK2 gene, including a form that lacks enzymatic function, to directly test the hypothesis. Two other investigators, Romain Zufferey, MD, PhD, of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Andrew West, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, will perform similar studies but will instead deliver the modified LRRK2 gene directly to brain cells using modified viruses, technology similar to that used in gene therapy.

Grant abstracts and researcher bios for all projects are available on the Foundation's Web site, http://www.michaeljfox.org.

About The Michael J. Fox Foundation

Founded in 2000, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research is dedicated to ensuring the development of a cure for Parkinson's disease within this decade through an aggressively funded research agenda. The Foundation has funded over $112 million in research to date.


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SOURCE Michael J. Fox Foundation
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