Our research on Parkinson’s disease goes from molecules right through to patients. In our pioneering Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre (OPDC) we are working on understanding:
Molecular mechanisms of disease
- We are building on what we know about the genetics of Parkinson's to understand the molecular mechanisms causing the disease.
- We use unique approaches to identify these pathways using human (patient) induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines of neurons, microglia and astrocytes.
- Deep phenotyping of our rich resource of Parkinson's patient iPSC neurons generated by OPDC and our partner StemBANCC provides a direct route to target discovery assay.
Cell and circuit dysfunction
- We are using tools to understand how brain cells and circuits malfunction in Parkinson’s. Our techniques are providing a high-resolution, mechanistic understanding of cell function in the context of neuronal circuits.
- We generate novel transgenic lines that recapitulate the genetic burden and early stages of Parkinson’s to understand why nerve cells are more vulnerable, define the biochemical consequences of genetic variation and ageing, and identify consequences of damage and loss of dopamine-producing neurons.
- These approaches have led to in vivo testing platforms to evaluate novel therapies designed to slow disease progression.
Cognition, Behaviour & Neuroimaging
- We have developed new, sensitive ways to measure memory and motivation in people with Parkinson’s (Cognitive Neurology).
- Our expertise in brain imaging at the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging (WIN) and the Acute Vascular Imaging Centre (AVIC) has led to novel methods to analyse brain structure and function and how these are disrupted in Parkinson’s.
Patient-focused research, cohorts and clinical services
- The OPDC Oxford Discovery Cohort was set up in 2010 through the Parkinson’s UK Monument Trust Discovery Award. It comprises more than 1000 People with Parkinson’s, more than 285 sleep study-diagnosed REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD) patients and 300 age-matched healthy people followed up longitudinally.
- It has provided an unparalleled opportunity to understand more about how Parkinson's develops over time, and how Parkinson’s affects different people in different ways.
- Our clinics and specialist nurses in Oxford – and hospitals linked to the John Radcliffe Hospital – provide high quality clinical services to people with Parkinson’s in the region.