Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease are caused by the death of nerve cells in the part of the brain called basal ganglia.
Our goal is to develop and improve treatments for the diseases and to improve quality of life for patients and their families.
Parkinson's disease is strongly linked to the degeneration of the brain’s movement center. In the last decade, the question of where the disease begins has led researchers to a different part of the human anatomy. In 2003, the German neuropathologist Heiko Braak presented a theory suggesting that the disease begins in the gut and spreads to the brain. The idea has since, despite vocal critics, gained a lot of ground. BAGADILICO researchers at Lund University now present the first direct evidence that the disease can actually migrate from the gut to the brain.
The Swedish Research Council and Formas have now completed an interim evaluation of the 20 Linneaus Environments that were awarded grants in 2008, including Bagadilico. The overall results show an impressively high quality. Bagadilico is praised particularly for its ability to boost the careers of promising young researchers, and the ability take basic research discoveries all the way towards clinical application.
Two years ago, a new type of stem cell was discovered in the brain that has the capacity to form new cells. The same research group at Lund University in Sweden has now revealed that these stem cells, which are located in the outer blood vessel wall, appear to be involved in the brain reaction following a stroke.
In Parkinson’s disease, the dopamine-producing nerve cells that control our motor function waste away. The research to develop new treatments therefore often aims to save or restore these cells. In a new study from BAGADILICO affiliates, researchers are attacking the disease from a different angle through early activation of the brain’s defence mechanisms. Stimulating a specific protein, the Sigma-1 receptor, sets off a battery of self-healing effects that slow the progression of the disease and restore the lost motor function. The results have been produced in studies on mice, but clinical trials with patients are not far off.
The majority of our brain cells are formed in the embryonic stage. However, there are a few structures in the brain where new neurons continue to form throughout adulthood. A BAGADILICO research group has studied such a population of neurons and discovered that they can be guided towards building more advanced paths of communication with their surrounding environment. An increased understanding of the function of newborn brain cells could eventually explain the underlying causes of various diseases of the brain and open up for new treatments.