Starting from square one to understand Parkinson’s disease

With a grant from the Lundbeck Foundation, scientist Per Borghammer has set out to test a hypothesis on why Parkinson’s disease occur.

A new research initiative with scientists from Aarhus University is trying to solve the riddle of why people have Parkinson’s Disease by taking a step back and look at the disease with fresh eyes.

More than six million people worldwide[1] are living with Parkinson’s Disease. However, we still do not know exactly why. But now, Per Borghammer, the leading scientist in the group, hopes to change that. He and his team has been granted 10 million Danish kroners by the Lundbeck Foundation to take a step back and examine the basics of Parkinson’s Disease from a totally new angle.

“I firmly believe that we simply do not yet understand Parkinson’s Disease, or any neurodegenerative disorder for that matter, well enough. Perhaps this is the reason why all trials of neuroprotective treatments have failed so far,” says Per Borghammer. “I want to take a step back and study Parkinson’s Disease with fresh eyes. Where, when, and how the disease starts.”

Multiple hypotheses have been suggested. One suggests that Parkinson’s Disease starts with changes in the part of your nose responsible for the ability to smell. Other hypotheses include changes in the gut, while some researchers are looking at stacking of alpha-synuclein protein in the brain.

“When we think about the many different approaches and theories about Parkinson’s Disease it really express the complexity of this disease,” says Per Borghammer.

Could Parkinson’s Disease be multiple different diseases?
Borghammer himself has a hypothesis that there are two types of Parkinson’s Disease; One type deriving from the gut, and another deriving from the brain. It is this assumption that he will look more closely into in his research.

“I believe that Parkinson’s Disease is not a single well-defined disease, but rather comprise a series of overlapping entities. It would be a major breakthrough if we can prove that Parkinson’s Disease can start in the gut in some patients, whereas it originates in the brain in others. Obviously, treatments targeting the prevention of Parkinson’s Disease will differ depending on that,” says Per Borghammer.

He has studied the subject with a team of researchers at Aarhus University. They have has already come up with interesting results made possible by grants.

“Grants allows us to think bigger and more long term in our studies and efforts to understand Parkinson’s Disease,” Per Borghammer notes.

“Previous research we have done has supported the gut-first hypothesis. But we also see patterns, where the disease starts in the brain. Our team are taking a multi-disciplinary approach to test this hypothesis from several angles, including animal models, detailed in-vivo imaging, and studying archived tissue from Parkinson’s patients,” Per Borghammer says, when listing some of the approaches to understand the devastating disease.

When asked what the dream is with these many different approaches, Per Borghammer does not hesitate: “That we reach a breakthrough concerning treatments of neurodegenerative disorders. I hope that we can one day stop the relentless disease progression and prevent these disorders all together.”

“Grants allows us to think bigger and more long term in our studies and efforts to understand Parkinson’s Disease,” Per Borghammer notes.

“Previous research we have done has supported the gut-first hypothesis. But we also see patterns, where the disease starts in the brain. Our team are taking a multi-disciplinary approach to test this hypothesis from several angles, including animal models, detailed in-vivo imaging, and studying archived tissue from Parkinson’s patients,” Per Borghammer says, when listing some of the approaches to understand the devastating disease.

When asked what the dream is with these many different approaches, Per Borghammer does not hesitate: “That we reach a breakthrough concerning treatments of neurodegenerative disorders. I hope that we can one day stop the relentless disease progression and prevent these disorders all together.”

 


[1] The Global Burden of Disease Study 2016, Lancet.com. 2017. Available at https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)32154-2/fulltext. Accessed May 2018. – taken from https://www.lundbeck.com/global/brain-disorders/disease-areas/parkinsons-disease on 27 November

The many approaches of Per Borghammer’s team

Modelled gut-first in a rat model

 

In vivo imaging

 

Studied archived gastrointestinal tissue from prodromal PD-patients

Cookie Policy
You have chosen to leave www.lundbeck.com. Lundbeck does not have any responsibility for the content provided by other websites. Click "OK" to continue or "Cancel" to remain on www.lundbeck.com.