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Worms aid Parkinson Disease Research

Research into Parkinson’s Disease at the University of Dundee has received a boost from a fundraising campaign organised by the Falkirk Branch of the Parkinson ’s Disease Society.

In 2005 over 100 people participated in a sponsored walk using the local canal network around Falkirk as a route and raised £5,500 for research into the disease.

Dr Anton Gartner, a Principal Investigator in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee will be presented with the cheque on 29 June 2006 by Dr Richard Lenton, the President of the Falkirk Branch of the Parkinson’s Disease Society and a Consultant Geriatrician at Falkirk Infirmary.

Also in attendance will be Eddie and Jess Bryce. Mrs Bryce founded the Falkirk Branch of the Parkinson’s Society in 1978 when her father was diagnosed with Parkinson's, a time when the nearest branch of the group was to be found in Edinburgh.

Dr Gartner said "I am delighted to receive this very generous donation from the Falkirk Branch of the Parkinson’s Disease Society."

Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects 0.5 - 1% of the population aged 65-69 years and sufferers are affected by rigidity, slow movement, poor balance and by uncontrollable shaking.

This is caused by the progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons that are located in the brain. The human brain contains tens of thousands of dopamineric neurons, however the tiny nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans only contains eight. Having identified C. elegans as a suitable experimental model, Dr Gartner’s group will study the worm over the next three years with the aim of finding genes that selectively protect dopaminergic neurons that are known to be implicated in Parkinson’s Disease.

"Money donated from the Falkirk Branch of the Parkinson Disease Society will directly support these efforts, which we hope will enhance our understanding of the disease," said Dr Gartner.

Mrs Bryce said: "Falkirk Branch are proud to be able to help research into Parkinson’s disease. Our thanks go all the participants of the sponsored walk last year for making the event such a great success, and we hope that they will come along and make this year’s walk just as successful. We feel sure that the type of research that Dr Gartner is doing will, sooner or later, help to provide the answers to Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders."

Dr Gartner is based in the Division of Gene Regulation and Expression in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee. He came to Dundee in 2004 from the Max Plank Institute for Biochemisty, Germany.

Roddy Isles | alfa
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