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Decreasing alpha synuclein in Parkinson’s disease: Are ‘strains’ the solution?

60 months
Approved budget:
Dr Victor Dieriks
Health issue:
Proposal type:
Sir Charles Hercus Fellowship
Lay summary
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the fastest growing neurological disorder in the world. At present 10 million are estimated to have PD, indicating that previous projections of 12 million by 2040 will be a serious underestimation. No treatments are available that target the underlying mechanism of PD. Even though we know that alpha-synuclein aggregation plays a critical role in the disease, research for a cure is hampered by the variability of the disease. The cause is likely a complex interaction of environmental factors and genetic mutations, which makes it hard to pinpoint the underlying mechanism. With the recent discovery of unique 3D conformations or ‘strains’ of aggregated alpha-synuclein, this variability can be stratified. The goal of this fellowship is to gain a better understanding of how brain cells break down the different alpha-synuclein strains before damage has gone beyond repair, and to find therapeutic targets relevant for each alpha-syn strain subtype.