Grant to support Parkinson's
Researchers at U.Va. who are looking for the origins of Parkinson's
disease were awarded a $5.7 million grant last week from the National
Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The institute
announced new support to eight "research centers of excellence"
at top universities, totaling $49 million over the next five years.
team of five scientists in the U.Va. Health System's Neurology
Department, led by Dr. G. Frederick Wooten, is studying genetic
mutations in mitochondria -- the cell's energy producers -- that
cause some nerve cells to die prematurely, leading to Parkinson's.
James P. Bennett Jr., Dr. W. Davis Parker Jr., Patricia A. Trimmer
and Dr. Jeremy Tuttle in the Center for the Study of Neurodegenerative
Diseases look at different parts of the process, from the mutations
in mitochondria to the eventual cell death. Dr. Wooten will head
up the clinical core of the project, identifying patients with
Parkinson's and their family members who don't have the disease
to donate blood samples.
study of mitochondrial genes, which are passed only from the mother
to her offspring, is an active area of research, according to
Bennett. Some types of genetic diseases appear to occur sporadically,
he said, but are inherited only through the mother's side and
thus can skip generations.
disease affects more than half a million Americans, mostly later
in life, progressively impairing the control of physical movement.
The standard drug treatment loses effectiveness as the disease