Currently no treatments exist to slow down or stop Parkinson’s disease in patients. But eight years of research by a dedicated team at the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit in Dundee has brought us a step closer. Doctor and Research Fellow Maratul Muqit explains the thrill of revealing the inner workings of a specific enzyme in the brain, and why this could help towards developing future drugs for patients.
Over the last 10 years as a doctor specialising in Parkinson’s disease, I have been asked by my patients many times whether a cure was in sight. I used to struggle to answer that question with anything but ambivalence given the long list of failures of clinical trials in Parkinson’s. Read more
There are more than 12,000 brains stored and ready for use by researchers in ten banks across the country ― and they’re easier to access than you might think. Here Dr L. Miguel Martins from the MRC Toxicology Unit explains what he gets out of working with brain tissue and provides some tips for researchers starting out.
Miguel (second from right) and his team.
I found out about the availability of deceased human brain tissue for my work because I have long-term collaborations ― since at least 2003 ― with colleagues at the UCL Institute of Neurology, which supports the Queen Square Brain Bank for Neurological Disorders, part of the UK Brain Banks Network.
My team’s research focuses on studying the genetics and cell signalling networks involved in Parkinson’s disease. I see using human brain tissue as being able to come full circle: Parkinson’s is a human disease which we investigate using animal models of the disease, and then validate in brain tissue donated by patients with Parkinson’s. Read more
Activities at a dementia group (Image copyright: Department of Health)
Studying how the brain changes as part of neurodegenerative diseases is crucial, but there’s growing evidence that the way the rest of our body changes as we age is important too. As we launch the UK Dementias Research Platform, the Chair of our Neurosciences and Mental Health Board Professor Hugh Perry tells us why we need to be taking a more holistic approach to research into dementias.
There was a time when we would have considered diseases of the brain in isolation of other body systems. But to put it crudely, 75-year-old brains are part of 75-year-old bodies, and these 75-year-old bodies tend to have various physiological problems.
There’s now growing evidence that as we age changes in physiology such as arthritis and diabetes are associated with changes in our mental processes such as memory, language and decision-making. Read more