Kolling researchers join global search for new insights into Parkinson’s disease

Kolling Institute researchers will help drive an exciting international project to identify the genetic links to Parkinson’s disease and new ways to treat the debilitating disorder.

The program will bring together leading researchers from Sweden, the United States and Australia after a $12.5 million grant from the Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s initiative, which will be administered by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

The Kolling Institute’s Executive Director Professor Carolyn Sue is thrilled to be involved as an investigator, with the degenerative movement disorder impacting more than six million people worldwide.

“Parkinson’s disease is one of the biggest neurological health challenges this century, affecting an increasing number of people due to our ageing population,” she said.

Professor Sue, who is also the Director of Neurogenetics at Royal North Shore Hospital, said the project will use state-of-art technologies and a very specialised approach involving gene editing.

“Our research will investigate three specific genes linked to the disease, including the LRRK2, PARKIN and A-SYNUCLEIN genes.

“By understanding how genes contribute to Parkinson’s disease, we will be in a better position to identify new therapies that could slow the disease process.

“Even if we slow the process by a small amount, the impact on patients will be significant.”

Two members of Professor Sue’s neuroscience research team will also join the three-year project, including Dr Ryan Davis and Dr Gautam Wali.

“We have world leading expertise in this field and have been selected to take part after a global search for innovative programs to speed-up the search for the next generation of treatments for Parkinson’s.

“This collaborative project will see our team work with other world leading experts, including Professor Deniz Kirik from Lund University, who will be the lead investigator on the project for the University of Sydney as an Honorary Professor, and Professor Glenda Halliday from the Brain and Mind Centre.

“Together we will work to unravel some of the fundamental mechanisms that cause Parkinson’s disease and help to develop new ways to treat the disorder.

“The program illustrates the importance of our translational research at the Kolling Institute, where we can directly incorporate scientific breakthroughs to improve clinical care for our patients.

“It also highlights the significance of a collaborative approach, where we can harness the strengths and expertise from multiple institutions, including the Northern Sydney Local Health District and the University of Sydney to accelerate our research progress.”