New Parkinson's disease research initiative

16 April 2018

Professor Ian Wilmut (The Roslin Institute), lead scientist in the project that created Dolly the Sheep, has announced, on World Parkinson's Disease Day, that he is backing a major new Parkinson's disease research programme between Dundee and Edinburgh after being diagnosed with the condition.

"Initiatives of this kind are very effective not only because they bring more people together, but because they will include people with different experience and expertise. It was from such a rich seedbed that Dolly developed and we can hope for similar benefits in this project." Sir Ian Wilmut, Professor Emeritus, University of Edinburgh

The BBC have conducted an exclusive interview with Professor Wilmut which can be found on their website.

Parkinson's disease can cause a range of symptoms including slow movement, muscle stiffness and involuntary shaking. Treatments can help symptoms but there is nothing to slow down or stop the progression. At present, Scottish patients seeking to take part in clinical trials of treatments that could delay disease progression are required to travel to centres in England or Wales, or even abroad.

"In recent years, our knowledge of the genetics and biology underlining Parkinson's disease has exploded. I feel optimistic and it is not unrealistic that with a coordinated research effort, major strides towards better treating Parkinson's disease can be made."  Professor Dario Alessi, University of Dundee

The world pioneering work on Dolly the Sheep has led to the development of techniques that now allow scientists to reprogramme adult cells to become any cell type in the body (induced pluripotent stem cells, iPSCs). iPSC cells are now being used in many neuroscience research areas and hold great promise because of their potential to repair damaged tissue. Dr Tilo Kunath (MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine) is using this approach to understand Parkinson's disease. 

"People with Parkinson's urgently require access to earlier and more accurate diagnosis, better prediction of how their disease will progress, and most importantly, the opportunity to participate in clinical trials of new treatments. This new research partnership aims sto make these hopes a reality for people in Scotland." Dr Tilo Kunath, Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh

The Dundee-Edinburgh Initiative, which was launched last week, plans to set up the first clinical trials in Scotland aimed at slowing Parkinson's.


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