Exciting times for Parkinson's research in Europe

Our latest blog entry is from our director of research and innovation, Dr Kieran Breen, who has just returned from the launch of a European research strategy for neurology.

Earlier this week, I attended the launch of the Joint Programme for Neurodegenerative Disorders research (JPND) strategy.

This is an initiative, partly funded by the European Union (EU), to make sure research into neurodegenerative conditions, such as Parkinson's, is better integrated within Europe.

Parkinson's UK has been a key player in shaping this strategy and I represented the charity - as well as the European Parkinson's Disease Association (EPDA) - at 2 of the steering group meetings last year.

They also asked for details of the research that we are supporting, as Parkinson's UK is a major funder of Parkinson's research in Europe. In fact, we aim to spend at least £25million over the 5 year period 2010-2014.

The JPND research strategy highlights a number of priority research areas. These are the same as the Parkinson's UK research strategy launched in 2010 – disease pathology, animal models, drug screening and biomarkers. Maybe they 'stole' our ideas!

The JPND research programme aims to streamline research within Europe. While the EU will cover the administrative costs, the majority of the funding will come from the individual countries. So Parkinson's UK will have a great opportunity to be involved in some exciting new research. And, as a major funder of this type of research, we can help to shape the agenda.

I see this as a real step forward. It shows that the EU has a definite commitment to the study of neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson's.

And I think that this will be reflected in the 'piece of the pie' that will be available to us from the upcoming research strategy Horizon 2020. This will fund all areas of scientific research and is estimated to be worth up to €80billion in 2014-2020.

Over the coming months, you can be sure that we will be working hard to make sure that Parkinson's UK remains at the heart of research in Europe. This will bring us closer to our goal - to find a cure for Parkinson's.

Find out more about our research plans by emailing research@parkinsons.org.uk


steviej said...

We often see lists of research but not much information on how they relate to each other. For example is there any connection between what is described at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16913997 and at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13816815 ?

Parkinson's UK said...

Hi steviej - thanks for your question.

Yes, there is a connection between the two pieces of research you mentioned.

There have been a been a number of important breakthroughs in Parkinson's research over the last year, all stemming from cuting-edge techniques which mean scientists can now grow nerve cells from skin cells.

Last year, Parkinson's UK-funded researchers at the University of Edinburgh made nerve cells from a person with another form of inherited Parkinson's: http://bit.ly/oQXuCC

This week researchers in the US have used nerve cells made from skin cells to understand the role of the parkin gene in Parkinson's: http://bit.ly/xxU3Wl

And last week researchers in California converted skin cells directly into brain cells: http://bbc.in/wqIWsY

Until recently it was impossible to study the nerve cells lost in Parkinson's in the lab. But the ability to grow nerve cells in a dish is giving scientists a crucial window into the Parkinson's brain - allowing them to study how they behave and why they die.

You can keep up to date with our Parkinson's research news at http://www.parkinsons.org.uk/researchnews or email us at research@parkinsons.org.uk if you have any other questions.

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