Sheffield scientists have been awarded £1.2 million to design a new Parkinson’s drug

Researchers from the University of Sheffield have been awarded over £1 million from Parkinson’s UK to develop a drug to slow down the progression of the degenerative disease.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 4:10 pm

Researchers from the university’s Institute of Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) will work with Parkinson UK’s Virtual Biotech initiative to try and halt Parkinson’s progression by developing a drug to protect dopamine-producing brain cells.

Some 145,000 people are living with Parkinson's in the UK and there is a desperate need for new and better treatments.

The drug will aim to develop molecules that can boost the function of the brain’s energy-producing mitochondria to halt the degenerative disease - something no treatment can currently do.

University of Sheffield scientists have been awarded over £1 million from Parkinson’s UK to develop a drug to slow down the progression of the degenerative disease.

Dr Heather Mortiboys, senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield’s SITraN, will lead the research.

She said: “Two more people are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease every hour – that's 18,000 people every year. Causing a loss of physical movement and uncontrollable tremors, the disease will affect 145,000 people in the UK alone in 2020.

“We’re delighted to continue our work with Parkinson's UK to refine these promising molecules to develop a treatment that could stop Parkinson’s in its tracks.

"The team has identified not only molecules which can restore mitochondrial function in dopaminergic neurons from people with Parkinson's, but also a novel mechanism by which they do this.

“We’re progressing both a novel mitochondrial therapeutic target and novel molecules which act upon this target. The aim is to have a lead molecule which is active at the mitochondrial target, can restore mitochondrial function in dopaminergic neurons derived from people with Parkinson’s and is able to get into the brain in a whole organism.”

The new project will bring together biology and chemistry experts from the University of Sheffield, Parkinson’s UK and world-leading contract research organisations to further develop the modified molecules.

Dr Arthur Roach, director of research at Parkinson's UK, added: “This new funding will greatly accelerate the project and shows our commitment to working with ground-breaking academic researchers in the UK and taking their discoveries from the lab towards clinical trials.

"There is a desperate need for new and better treatments and we hope this project will one day deliver a life-changing drug for people living with the condition.”