2014 Funding Round – Explorer Grant

Professor John Reynolds
University of Otago, Dunedin
Temporal and spatial control of drugs for improved treatment of brain disorders
18 months

Lay summary

Our vision is to revolutionise treatment for neurological diseases, using a novel system we have designed to mimic normal neuro-chemical signalling in the brain. In this proof-of-concept study, we will reinstate the missing dopamine signal in Parkinson's disease (PD) by activating the release of dopamine-like drugs from biological carriers ('liposomes') in targeted brain areas at natural timing. We aim to restore movement to an animal PD model without the debilitating side effects associated with current dopamine-replacement therapies. L-DOPA, the mainstay in PD therapy, induces abnormal movements ('dyskinesias') in up to 50-80 per cent of people within 3-5 years of commencing treatment. In addition, other dopamine-like drugs induce aberrant behaviours, such as pathological gambling, in 3-10 per cent of people. Our system holds the promise of lifelong PD treatment without these side effects, because dopamine replacement can be customised to mimic the natural dopamine signal in targeted brain areas.

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