Image courtesy of Tilo Kunath - MRC, Edinburgh

CPT is thrilled to be funding this exciting new project headed by Professor Roger Barker, Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair, designed to identify drugs that affect Parkinson's (PD) using patient-based “induced neuronal” (iNs) cells with a view to determining which drugs are most likely to slow or stop PD progression.

Skin cells will be taken from patients with specific types of PD and then directly turned into nerve cells, by using a virus that contains a variety of “reprogramming” factors. These cells will importantly be turned into “old” nerve cells of the type affected by the disease in the patient’s brain.

The study of these nerve cells will determine the processes that are not working correctly. The nerve cells will then be treated with a variety of drugs (particularly our Linked Clinical Trials candidates) to understand if they can correct the problems that are seen. Any drug that improves the disease abnormalities shown in the induced neurons will then be a good candidate to trial in people with PD to determine if it slows the disease.

Use of iNs is a novel and powerful approach to understanding the underpinnings of idiopathic and genetic PD and this research approach is likely to be scalable and can be applied for wider screening efforts. Importantly, compounds being studied in this field of research are existing drugs, allowing for relatively rapid repurposing in to the clinic. In addition, examining the use of different drug combinations is another opportunity with this research.