Parkinson’s disease is the fastest growing brain disease in the world. This is partially attributable to the ageing population, yet it is starting to seem that other factors, such as agricultural pesticides, heavy metals, and solvents, also play a role. The challenge for the future is to find a medicine, as none have yet been found. Thankfully, plenty of research is being conducted on the disease. Within the UG, too, various scientists are busy researching Parkinson’s.
In this series, we are highlighting a number of researchers who are researching topics including the emergence, cause, identification, and inhibition of the disease from their own different perspectives. All of these researchers find it important to contribute to better understanding, and eventually finding a cure for, this disease.
In the first instalment, we visit Laura Nederveen-Schippers in her laboratory. Nederveen-Schippers recently obtained her PhD for her research into the development of a method to measure the pairing of proteins. This important for the protein LRRK2 (pronounced ‘lark-two’), among others, which is involved in Parkinson’s disease. In a significant number of Parkinson’s patients, the LRRK2 protein is hyperactive: it initiates a certain chemical reaction too often. Researchers would like to know how this protein activity is regulated and what this regulation depends on. This knowledge could provide a way to inhibit the protein. In this way, LRRK2 hyperactivity could be prevented and the dying off of neurons could be stopped. This is an important step in the search for medicines to combat Parkinson’s disease.
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