New discovery in Parkinson's battle

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					spring
Issue eleven




                            the florey                      An insight into the world of medical research
                                                                                                                                   sponsored by:




               New discovery
               in Parkinson’s battle
               Ross Collins, 43, is one of 25,000 Australians who has Parkinson’s disease. Ross loves riding his Harley Davidson. It
               masks his tremors as the heavy engine vibrates. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder in which cells at
               the base of the brain in the Substantia Nigra progressively reduce the supply of the chemical messenger, dopamine,
               to the nerve cells.
               The gradual onset of the disease leads to    many terminals that park themselves in           Substantia Nigra die, symptoms of
               symptoms such as tremors, stiffness of the   another part of the brain, called the            Parkinson’s start to appear.
               muscles, and difficulty starting movement.   Striatum. Here they release their dopamine          The team has found that many people
                  New research from scientists at the       when required.                                   naturally have smaller or larger trees and
               Howard Florey Institute provides clues to      The Institute’s Professor Malcolm              a genetic link is suspected.Those with
               the mechanism controlling dopamine and       Horne and his team have found that if            larger trees are constantly producing
               how it can lead to Parkinson’s disease,      the dopamine cells in the Substantia             slightly larger amounts of dopamine
               and offers insights into possible                  Nigra start to die, then the surviving     through their life, setting up an
               treatments for people like Ross.                      ones can compensate for them by         environment that makes them susceptible
                  Dopamine cells send out                               creating extra branches in the       to Parkinson’s later in life.
               axons that branch out                                      Striatum. But they can only           Professor Horne’s team has found
               creating a ‘tree’ with                                     compensate so much. Once           circumstantial evidence that stem cells are
                                                                           more than 80 percent of the       moving in when the dopamine cells in the
                                                                           dopamine cells in the             Substantia Nigra are being damaged, and
                                                                                                             that they are the cells involved in the
                                                                                     Ross Collins is one
                                                                                     of 25,000 Australians   compensatory branching that occurs.
                                                                                     who has Parkinson’s
                                                                                     disease.                Professor Horne is now looking at the
                                                                                                             use of stem cells to treat Parkinson’s.
                                                                                                                The researchers involved also suggest
                                                                                                             that if the size of a person’s tree is
                                                                                                             indicative of their susceptibility to
                                                                                                              Parkinson’s then they may be able to
                                                                                                                 slow down their turnover of
                                                                                                                    dopamine or reduce the size
                                                                                                                        of their tree early in life to
                                                                                                                         prevent the disease manifesting.
                                                                                                                         This would involve drugs that
                                                                                                                         block various receptors or
                                                                                                                         enzymes involved in dopamine
                                                                                                                         production.




                              New research                                      Collaboration                                         Deutsche Bank
                              group focuses                                     excels in                                             provides assistance
                              on MS                                             Victoria                                              with a difference
                              See page 2                                        See page 3                                            See page 4
                                                                               New research group
                                                                               focuses on MS
                                                                               There has never been a time for more optimism              research group focused on MS. Led by Professor
                                                                               that major breakthroughs in the understanding              Trevor Kilpatrick, the new group aims to draw
                                                                               and treatment of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) will              key MS researchers into a major internationally
                                                                               result in beneficial outcomes for patients. MS is          competitive program, supported by key platform
                                                                               the most prevalent progressive neurological                technologies, and establish a research pipeline
                                                                               condition of young and middle aged adults and              from bench to bedside.
                                                                               is a major cause of disability worldwide.                     A laboratory devoted to demyelination
                                                                                  MS is an incurable disease of                                                research will be established in
                                                                               the central nervous system that                                                 the Howard Florey Institute.
                                                                               can affect the brain, spinal cord                                               This will provide an integrated
                                                                               and optic nerves. Common                                                        facility for the Howard Florey
                                                                               problems may include fatigue,                                                   Institute/Centre for
                                     Director’s                                incontinence, constipation, pain,
                                                                               cognitive changes, altered
                                                                                                                                                               Neuroscience/National
                                                                                                                                                               Neuroscience Facility
                                     message                                   sensation, and muscular and
                                                                               visual changes.The disease
                                                                                                                                                               development.
                                                                                                                                                                  Professor Kilpatrick and his
                                     Almost everybody knows somebody           most commonly affects young                                                     team will focus on cellular
                                     who has a condition that affects the      white females living in                                                         dysfunction in the
                                     brain and mind, such as depression,       temperate regions of the                                                        oligodendrocyte pool. We
                                                                                                                     Professor Trevor Kilpatrick heads up
                                     stroke, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
                                                                               world.The cause of MS is not            the new MS Team at the Florey.          know that the progressive
                                     disease, epilepsy or schizophrenia. All
                                     of us are interested in maintaining       known. Because it is a chronic                                                 phase of demyelination in MS
                                     our memory, intellect and insight,        or long-term illness, affected people have to              involves progressive oligodendrocyte and neural
                                     and in maintaining our ability to         adjust to the demands of the illness and the               attrition.The laboratory will examine the
                                     participate actively in our society.      therapy used to treat the condition.There may              mechanisms of oligodendrocyte failure with
                                        It may not be surprising then that
                                                                               be additional stresses, because chronic illness            identification of therapeutic opportunities.
2                                    in any one-year, over three million
                                     Australians experience one or more        might change the way a person lives, sees                     These studies will explore aberrant cellular
                                     episodes of major brain or mind           themselves, and relates to others.                         signalling within oligodendrocytes and
                                     disorder. In fact, brain and mind            A new initiative between the Howard Florey              oligodendrocytopathies in order to design
                                     disorders pose the highest health,        Institute and the Centre for Neuroscience at the           novel therapies to enhance nervous system
                                     economic and social capital burden
                                                                               University of Melbourne is the establishment of a repair in MS.
                                     to Australia of any disease group.
                                        Of particular concern, the
                                     prevalence of brain and mind
                                     disorders is increasing
                                     –neurodegenerative disorders such
                                     as dementia and Parkinson’s disease
                                     because of an ageing population,
                                                                                   New phone number
                                     and psychiatric disorders reflecting          As part of the move to the National Neuroscience Facility,
                                     a range of social, family,                    the Howard Florey Institute has a new phone number: +61 3 8344 1888
                                     developmental and drug and alcohol
                                     problems in our youth.
                                        Despite these statistics, this is a
                                     time for optimism because the
                                     acceleration of neuroscience is
                                     increasing hope in the battle against
                                     brain disease. An explosion in
                                                                               HFI investigates Motor Ne
                                     knowledge, driven by major advances                                  The Motor Neuron                  This HFI research group is linking up with a
                                     in technology, is leading a revolution       INDIA                   Disease research               neurology center in the southern Indian state of
                                     in the understanding of neurological
                                     and psychiatric disorders. Research is                               group at the Howard            Tamil Nadu that has a population of 62 million.
                                     being focused on problems such as                                    Florey Institute,              Tamil Nadu is also an interesting geographical
                                     brain and spinal cord injury, stroke,              Tamil Nadu        headed by Associate            region with respect to MND because it is the
                                     multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s                                  Professor Surindar             only part of the world that has a unique form of
                                     disease, to name a few. Therapy of                                   Cheema, is in the              this disease called Madras MND.
                                     Alzheimer’s disease now seems
                                     achievable, but much more work is                                    process of establishing           After two trips, Associate Professor Cheema
    the florey Issue eleven spring




                                     needed. Stem cell technology and                                     a collaborative venture        is making some progress in teaming up with
                                     deeper understanding of mechanisms        to study Motor Neuron Disease (MND) in India.             Professor Srinivas Krishnamoorty, a distinguished
                                     of brain function are providing hope      The subcontinent, with a population of                    neurologist who is Head of the Neurology
                                     that many brain disorders will be         approximately one billion people, offers unique           Department at the VHS Hospital in Chennai,
                                     treatable.
                                        There has never been a more            opportunities for research into relatively rare           South India. Data from approximately 15 patients
                                     exciting time for research into the       neurodegenerative diseases such as MND.                   has been collected to date.
                                     brain and mind than right now.
                                                                                                       news notes
    Collaboration excels                                                                               Grant for $6.474 million
                                                                                                       The NHMRC has approved a grant of

    in Victoria                                                                                        $6.474 million over five years for Associate
                                                                                                       Professor Seong-Seng Tan, Professor Trevor
                                                                                                       Kilpatrick, Professor Perry Bartlett and Dr
                                                                                                       Pankaj Sah to research the control of nerve
                                                                                                       cell production. By combining resources, the
                                                                                                       team will be positioned at the very
                                                                                                       forefront of the international competition
                                                                                                       to discover and evaluate clinically the
                                                                                                       molecular mechanisms underlying neural
                                                                                                                   repair and regeneration.This is
                                                                                                                      of enormous significance in
                                                                                                                       determining how we best
                                                                                                                        treat stroke, injury and
                                                                                                                        other neuro-degenerative
                                                                                                                       diseases in the next 10 years,
                                                                                                                      and will hopefully lead to the
                                                                                                    A/P Seong-Seng development of new
                                                                                                    Tan              therapeutics of immense value.

                                                                                                       BHP staff learn of recent
    The Hon John Brumby MP, Victorian Minister for Innovation and Minister for State and Regional      discoveries
    Development, officially opened the National Neuroscience Facility.
                                                                                                       Florey Director, Professor Fred Mendelsohn,
    The National Neuroscience Facility (NNF) was officially launched in August during a                recently gave a presentation to staff at BHP
    week of celebratory activities including an art exhibition, a concert by famous                    on discoveries from the past five years
    Australian musician David Helfgott, and presentations from leading neuroscientists.                about the brain. He spoke about how these
      The NNF, officially opened by Victorian Minister for Innovation and Minister for                 discoveries are revolutionising the way we
                                                                                                       understand the brain and how
    State and Regional Development, The Hon John Brumby MP, was established from
                                                                                                       they are opening doors
    Federal and State Government funds which were secured by the Howard Florey
                                                                                                       for solving problems in
    Institute in concert with Neurosciences Victoria in late 2001.                                     brain and mind disorders.                                              3
      Located in Parkville, the NNF was established to encourage research partnerships                 Professor Mendelsohn’s
    and a physical infrastructure that will position Australia as one of the top five                  presentation was well
    neuroscience centres in the world.                                                                 received by BHP staff and
      Director of the Howard Florey Institute, Professor Frederick Mendelsohn, said                    helped to further strengthen our       Professor
                                                                                                       relationship with the company.         Frederick
    that while the key proponents of the NNF are Melbourne based, the focus of the                                                         Mendelsohn
    NNF will be both national and international.
                                                                                                       Epilepsy grant aids
      “Melbourne’s neuroscience research community is world-class because of the
                                                                                                       US collaboration
    quality of our scientists and also because of our commitment to collaboration,”
                                                                                                       Dr Steven Petrou has been awarded a
    Professor Mendelsohn said.                                                                         prestigious grant to research how epilepsy
      “With the creation of the NNF, we will continue to grow these collaborations                     related alterations in brain chemistry
    with scientists, universities and commercial partners in Australia and overseas,”                  contribute to the disease.The grant of
    he added.                                                                                                      US$600,000 over five years is
                                                                                                                      from the National Institutes of
                                                                                                                        Health in the USA and sees


euron Disease in India
                                                                                                                         Dr Petrou collaborating
                                                                                                                         with Dr Matt Jones, from
                                                                                                                         the University of Wisconsin.
                                                                                                                         The research will focus on
 expressed interest in this venture.                                                                                 the world’s first mouse model
                                                                                                    Dr Steven Petrou of an inherited human epilepsy
   Associate Professor Cheema’s vision is the
 establishment of an international alliance that                                                       syndrome, which Dr Petrou developed last
                                                                                                       year. Dr Petrou and Dr Jones’ research will
 will focus on MND in India.This may lead to
                                                                                                       provide valuable information about the role
 new insights into the causes and hopefully                                                            of molecules affected by the epilepsy
 cures for this fatal neurological condition.                                                          mutation and allow us to better understand
                                                                                                       critical aspects of nerve cell inhibition that
                                                                                                       are related to epilepsy.The research will
                                                                                                                                                          the florey Issue eleven spring




                                                                                                       also help provide an unprecedented
                                                                                                       opportunity to study the physiological role
                                                                                                       of specialised molecules that control brain
                                                                                                       cell communication and further develop a
                        Associate Professor Surindar
                             Cheema with Professor                                                     novel animal model for future studies of
                          Srinivas Krishnamoorty in                                                    epilepsy.
                                     Chennai, India.
                                     Deutsche Bank provides
                                     assistance with a difference
                                                                     Deutsche Bank      mechanisms of memory and learning.
                                                                     has awarded            The Deutsche Bank’s assistance will be
                                     scholarships to two outstanding Florey PhD         invaluable in assisting Nora and Grant to
                                     students – Nora Chen and Grant Peck. These         pursue their careers, and through Deutsche
                                     scholarships will provide the students with
                                     financial assistance and also gives them the
                                                                                        Bank’s secondary school mentoring program,
                                                                                        it is hoped that their own passion for science
                                                                                                                                              Our supporters
                                     opportunity, through pairing with Deutsche         will inspire others.                                  To those who have generously donated to
                                     Bank mentors, to gain an understanding of              In addition, Deutsche Bank has generously         the Howard Florey Institute from April to
                                     the business world. In turn, this will assist in   provided funding for an annual Leadership             August, we acknowledge your support
                                     preparing them for their working future as         Development Program, specifically designed            with appreciation.
                                     post-doctoral science graduates.                   for PhD students. Thanks to this support,
                                        In addition, the scholarships provide a more    12 students annually will participate in a            Annette Lester
                                                                                                                                              Antony Gross
                                     intangible, but equally important opportunity      structured leadership program, conducted by           Beckman Coulter Pty Ltd
                                     to lead and inspire others to follow a             Margaret Beaton from Beaton Consulting.               Biolab Australia Limited
                                                                                                                                              Brencorp Foundation
                                     career in science. Deutsche Bank                      Margaret has worked closely with students          Charles Goode
                                     supports underprivileged youth                           and management to design a customised           D N Sanders
                                     through sporting and                                          program aimed at personal and              David Baillieu
                                                                                                                                              Denys McCullogh
                                     academic programs in the                                        leadership development for               Deutsche Bank
                                     western suburbs. Nora and                                        students in the final stages of their   Finkel Foundation
                                                                                                                                              Frederick Mendelsohn
                                     Grant will be mentors and                                         PhD candidacy. The program fulfils     G P Embleton & Co Pty Ltd
                                     encourage secondary                                               an identified need for such            Gary Boniface
                                     school students to follow                                        students: they have received a          Geoffrey Parkes
                                                                                                                                              Goodsight Company Limited
                                     the career and study path                                        world class scientific education but    Ian Potter Foundation
                                     they have chosen.                                                  additional support and training is    J & R Smorgon Families Foundation
                                                                                                                                              Joanna Baevski
                                        Nora is a member of the                                            vital in empowering and            Lew Carty Charitable Trust
4                                    Institute’s Neurobiology                                                 equipping students to make      Martin Sachs
                                     Team researching the                                                        a smooth transition to       Martyn Myer
                                                                                                                                              Medoa Company
                                     effects of Omega-3 fatty                                                      a successful career, in    Merck Pty Ltd
                                     acid depletion on brain                                                       either industry or         Merton Premier Apartments
                                                                                                                                              Metabolic Pharmaceuticals Limited
                                     function and activity.                                                        academia.                  Michael McAlister
                                     Grant is a member of                                                                                     Millipore Australia
                                                                                                                  Nora Chen and Grant
                                     the Neurochemistry                                                           Peck were recently          Moir’s Investment Service Pty Ltd
                                                                                                                  awarded scholarships        Mr & Mrs Boad
                                      Team investigating neural                                                   from the Deutsche Bank.     Ms Nassau
                                                                                                                                              Naomi Milgrom
                                                                                                                                              Nell & Hermon Slade Trust
                                                                                                                                              Norman Gipton

                                      Pledge supports                                                  The Howard Florey Institute
                                                                                                       was able to formally thank
                                                                                                       Caroline and Philip Cornish for
                                                                                                                                              Paper Agencies (Australia & NZ) Pty Ltd
                                                                                                                                              Patricia Scally
                                                                                                                                              Philip & Caroline Cornish

                                      brain research                                                   their enormous contribution to
                                                                                                       the Institute during a visit in
                                                                                                                                              Phillip Schudmak
                                                                                                                                              R & D Scott
                                                                                                                                              Susan & Michael Grasyan
                                                                                                       August.The Cornish’s have              The Besen Family Foundation
                                                                                                       pledged $1million over five            The Millar Foundation
                                                                                                       years to the Brain Injury and          Trust Company of Australia
                                                                                                       Repair Team. In recognition of         Wendy Dowd
                                                                                                       this, a plaque has been placed         Westfield Capital Corporation
                                                                                                       in the Brain Injury and Repair         380 Lonsdale Street Pty Ltd
                                                                                                       Laboratory. Pictured during the
                                                                                                       visit are (from left) Caroline
                                                                                                       Cornish; Philip Cornish; Dr
                                                                                                       Graeme Chandler, General
                                                                                                       Manager; Professor Frederick
                                                                                                       Mendelsohn, Director;
                                                                                                       Associate Professor Surindar
                                                                                                       Cheema, Head of Motor                     For more information contact the Editor:
                                                                                                       Neurone Disease Team; and                 Merrin Rafferty
    the florey Issue eleven spring




                                                                                                       Professor Malcolm Horne,                  Howard Florey Institute
                                                                                                                                                 National Neuroscience Facility
                                                                                                       Deputy Director.
                                                                                                                                                 Level 2 / 161 Barry Street
                                                                                                                                                 Carlton South,VIC 3053,Australia
                                                                                                                                                 Tel:   +61 3 8344 1658
                                                            The Howard Florey Institute acknowledges the support of Eppendorf for                Fax:   +61 3 9347 0446
                                                            providing funds for the production of this newsletter                                Email: m.rafferty@hfi.unimelb.edu.au

                                                                                                                                               IDEA#6204

				
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Description: New discovery in Parkinson's battle