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Sarah O’Donovan awarded Biochemical Society grant to Vienna Conference

1 Jun 2017
Sarah O’Donovan awarded Biochemical Society travel grant to Vienna Conference

Congratulations to Ms. Sarah O’Donovan who was awarded a Biochemical Society travel grant, to attend the 13th International Conference on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, held in Vienna, Austria on the 29th April  – 2nd May.

Sarah is currently a post-graduate student, funded by an APC Innovation Platform award, supervised by a multi-disciplinary APC team, led by Dr. Cora O’Neill. The team believes that Parkinson’s disease is not just a brain disease, but a brain ↔ gut axis disease, and furthermore that the gut presents a major uncharted opportunity for improved disease understanding, treatment and diagnosis. Sarah's poster received a lot of interest at this world renowned conference and results presented are highly novel indicating that disease progression in Parkinson’s disease is a ‘two-way street’, where brain → gut communication may be central component.

In her poster Sarah showed that α-synuclein rats demonstrated neuronal degeneration in the enteric nervous system, specific to the submucosal plexus. The model induced changes to faecal microbial composition in α-synuclein rats, where α-synuclein rats were shown to be more responsive to the beneficial effects of exercise. Voluntary running selectively affected the conjugation of cholic acid in α-synuclein rats, indicating a change in the microbial population responsible for this modification. These findings suggest that this brain-initiated model of Parkinson’s disease displayed altered gut pathology and altered faecal microbiome, indicating a bi-directional relationship between the gut and brain in Parkinson’s disease.

The APC multi-disciplinary team includes Prof. Aideen Sullivan, Dr David Clarke, Dr Jillian Browne, Dr Orla O’Sullivan, Dr Niall Hyland, Dr Susan Joyce, Dr Olivia O’Leary, Dr Suzanne Timmons and Prof. Paul O’Toole. Co-authors and contributors to this work are Erin Crowley and Dr Yvonne Nolan.



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