QUT researchers secure funding for Parkinson’s disease treatment

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has secured A$4million in funding from the US Department of Defence (DoD) to develop new treatments for Parkinson’s disease by targeting the gut microbiome and gut-brain axis.

Associate Professor Richard Gordon and his team at QUT will use the grant to expand their Parkinson’s research program and test new approaches to slow or stop disease progression.

“Emerging evidence suggests that many of the known pathological features of Parkinson’s, such as unresolving inflammation and activation of the immune system, are closely linked to an imbalance of microbes in the gut,” Professor Gordon said.

“This unresolving inflammation, over a prolonged period, has been shown to damage the vulnerable dopamine-producing neurons that are gradually lost in people with Parkinson’s.”

Professor Gordon said the research team would use a combination of human patient studies and disease models to identify new classes of drugs as treatments for PD.

“We will also develop engineered microbes as live biotherapeutics and test their potential to slow or stop Parkinson’s progression by altering the gut ecosystem and activating protective mechanisms across the gut-brain axis,” he said.

“Our data suggests that the pathways we’ve uncovered in Parkinson’s patients, have an important role in maintaining a healthy gut microenvironment and function as a protective brake to limit harmful inflammation in healthy individuals.

“Rather than taking the usual approach of blocking immune pathways that drive inflammation, our research will explore the potential of restoring the gut microbial ecosystem and harnessing protective factors lost in the disease to limit inflammation and prevent vulnerable neurons from degeneration.

“If our approach is successful, it will open new avenues by which we can attempt to slow or stop Parkison’s disease and improve the quality of life for millions living with this condition.”

 

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