National University of Ireland, Galway
Gene-environment interactions as an approach to modelling Parkinsons disease
Irish Research Council
If funded, this project will address a major issue in Parkinsons disease research which is the limitations of the current animal models of the human condition. In humans, Parkinsons disease is caused by interactions between underlying genetics and environmental risk factors. However, in preclinical models, the disease is widely modelled using a single genetic or environmental insult. Unfortunately, this single-insult approach has limited these models on a number of important measures of validity, and has been proposed as one of the reasons underlying the high failure rate of experimental anti-Parkinsonian compounds in clinical trials. The limitations of existing models have led to a drive to develop more relevant models of Parkinsons disease with improved validity. Therefore the aim of this project is to develop and characterise novel models of human Parkinsons disease in the rat using relevant gene-environment interactions. To do so, rats will be exposed to relevant disease-associated genetic and environmental risk factors, and the impact on motor function and underlying neuropathology will be assessed. Our ultimate aim is to generate a relevant model of Parkinsons disease that will provide novel insights into the pathogenesis of the human condition and facilitate the development of novel treatments for it.