The Neurodegeneration Research Laboratory has experience and expertise in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord disorders. The team’s efforts are directed to preclinical research with a focus on outcomes in models of disease that will affect treatments in people. There are currently no treatments that can stop the progress of any of these diseases. The team have novel theories, a new approach and discoveries in progress, a well-developed preclinical-translational research platform, international links and strong links to clinicians.
Work in progress includes: discoveries for Parkinson’s disease, offering the possibility of novel insights necessary for slowing disease and preventing dyskinesia; a discovery that offers the chance of preventing neural loss of stroke (Australia’s second biggest killer) and; a novel result that shows it is possible to slow neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s. The group uses a wide range of cutting edge neuroscience approaches to study the molecular and cellular mechanisms that drive normal brain function, and degeneration with potential for new treatments. The laboratory pursues outcomes in three areas:
1) Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Spinal Disorders
Our theory is that degenerative brain diseases result, in part, from a failure of synapse maintenance through dysfunction of glial cells. This theory, a new slant on the inflammation hypothesis of disease, has far-ranging implications, as it is a new way of explaining the known data and offers a new way to think ultimately about treating disease. This has significant implications for developing novel therapies for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke and SCI. The team are investigating the theory in models of these diseases and are developing approaches to treatment based in this theory. They have early outcomes and experiments in progress that support the theory, showing evidence they can block neurodegeneration and rescue disease in animal models of these disorders.
2) Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells
Natural stem cells exist in the brain that have potential to regenerate the brain, however, they do not regenerate the brain In many diseases. The group is focused on this problem. The aim is to identify approaches to drive brain repair both through understanding the mechanisms that regulate neurogenesis and thereby identify approaches to drive it. The team’s current discoveries in this area have specific implications for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. Significantly recent data shows that profound regeneration is possible in the brain.
3) Learning, Memory and Movement
As part of their detailed investigations, the team undertake behavioural studies combined with neuro-anatomy, cell biology and molecular biology to understand the processes mechanisms and circuits that regulate learning, memory and movement.
In the News
The Michael J. Fox Foundation supports promising Parkinson’s project - Mar 23, 2015
Evidence that brains re-wire themselves following damage or injury - May 14, 2013
Forget about plaque when diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease - Apr 03, 2013
Potential to harness a newly uncovered mechanism of learning - Oct 05, 2010
Drawing the correct conclusions from clusters of data - Aug 18, 2010
Findings that should speed the development of drugs for Parkinson’s Disease - Nov 19, 2009
Harnessing the brain's own ability for repair - Jun 02, 2009