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Dr Gerard O’Keeffe, Dr Aideen Sullivan and Dr Sean O’Sullivan founders of PDRC receive 2012 TRAP funding.

22 Feb 2013

Recently-formed Parkinson’s Disease Research Cluster (PDRC). Co-founded by Dr Gerard O’Keeffe and Dr Aideen Sullivan in the Department of Anatomy & Neuroscience, and Dr Sean O’Sullivan in the Department of Neuroscience, Cork University Hospital have successfully been awarded funding under the 2012 Translational Research Access Programme, which relates to a study titled “Potential biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease: comparison of levels of neurotrophic factors in cerebrospinal fluid and serum of Parkinson’s disease patients with those in healthy controls.”

We have won international awards for our previous research and have disseminated our results by publications in high-impact peer-reviewed journals and presentations at prestigious international scientific conferences.

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease. There is currently no proven neuroprotective treatment that can delay or reverse the progression of PD, and this is probably the most important goal for research in this disease. Our research interests encompass all aspects of neurodegeneration and PD, with a particular focus on the identification of biomarkers which may be used to diagnose PD at an earlier stage. Our hope is that the development of biomarkers and subsequent earlier diagnosis of PD may allow earlier intervention with potential neuroprotective therapies.

Our recent Translational Research Access Programme grant application relates to a study titled “Potential biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease: comparison of levels of neurotrophic factors in cerebrospinal fluid and serum of Parkinson’s disease patients with those in healthy controls.” Using ELISA techniques, we will establish normative data in a healthy (non-PD) control population of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and serum levels of neurotrophic factors such as GDNF, neurturin, GDF5, CDNF and other relevant proteins that may be altered in PD such as alpha-synuclein, tau, neurofilament light chain and beta-amyloid. These data and techniques will then be used as part of a larger study incorporating CSF and serum analyses of patients with PD.

Our experience with the Translational Research Access Programme has been an entirely positive one. We applied for a grant of €9750 to allow the purchase of relevant ELISA kits and reagents to allow us start obtaining the normative data documented above. The application process was straight-forward and avoided repetition. The communication between the TRAP committee regarding our application and subsequent approval was always clear and timely.

Since our successful TRAP application, we have obtained the required materials to begin preliminary work on what we hope will be a larger project. We have applied for further larger grants to allow our research to hopefully develop into a clinically relevant and important body of research.

We are now actively recruiting participants for our research via research update letters, our website  and other PD research websites including the Michael J Fox Trial Finder.

Parkinson's Disease Research Cluster (PDRC)

College of Medicine & Health, University College Cork, Ireland.

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