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Unique Partnership Lights Up a Parkinson's Disease Research Tool
Date:11/12/2013

e-producing neurons.

DNA sequences called "promoters" regulate when, where and how much of a protein is produced. In nature, the tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) gene promoter drives the production of TH—an enzyme catalyst involved in the production of dopamine. Iacovitti and her group engineered a DNA construct that fused the TH gene promoter with the DNA sequence encoding green fluorescent protein ("the hTH-GFP construct"). GFP is isolated from jellyfish and is what makes the marine creature glow. Iacovitti and her group had originally introduced this hTH-GFP construct into mice. Shining blue light on the brain makes the GFP-expressing neurons glow, enabling researchers to visualize dopamine producing neurons.  

Removing Barriers to Progress with Research Tools

Since 2010 the MJFF Tools Program has created, validated and distributed research tools—such as animal models, viral vectors and cell lines—to free researchers from these tasks so they may focus on the discovery and testing that will find a Parkinson's cure. Often tool development is project-driven, a costly and time-consuming practice where scientists create and validate tools for specific experiments. Problems with reproducibility arise from tests done with self-produced tools, too. Complicated and lengthy material transfer agreements and intellectual property issues slow the sharing of established tools.

MJFF works with partners, including the recently established Parkinson's Disease Research Tools Consortium, to identify needs in this area and then develop and characterize research tools and distribute them to academic and industry researchers at low or no cost through an expedited process.

Putting Self-Interest Aside to Move Research Ahead

In 2011,
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SOURCE The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research; Taconic; Thomas Jefferson University
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