The Cure Prkinson's Trust is particularly pleased that Gerhard Coetzee, Ph.D., and Viviane Labrie, Ph.D., will join the Center for Neurodegenerative Science at the Van Andel Institute (VARI) in Grand Rapids in November and March, respectively. VARI is partnered with CPT in the Linked Clinical Trials (LCT) initiative.

The two new members of the team will utilise cutting-edge techniques to uncover the molecular underpinnings of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, helping to pave the way to new therapies that slow, stop or reverse disease progression. Their expertise in molecular biology, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and epigenetics offer novel insight for investigating these diseases and augmenting research already underway at the Institute.

Epigenetic marks play an important role in determining whether a gene is switched "on" or "off," and can contribute to disease development and progression. Neuroepigenetics, or epigenetic modifications in the brain, have been linked to functions such as learning, memory and stress responses, and have been implicated in several neurodegenerative diseases.

"There is a strong sense in the global Parkinson's community that we're on the edge of a paradigm-shifting change in how we diagnose and treat the disease," said Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., director of VARI's Center for Neurodegenerative Science and Chair of CPT's LCT Committee. "When it comes to the 10 percent of cases that are inherited, we largely know which genes are involved. The addition of Dr. Coetzee and Dr. Labrie's expertise will significantly strengthen our existing multidisciplinary team and help us understand how genetic risk factors play a role in the remaining 90 percent of cases, and why some people develop Parkinson's disease while others with a similar genetic makeup do not."  

Excerpts in this piece were taken from the full article which first appeared in EurekAlert Science News 16th November 2015.