Significant funding for a novel approach for treating Parkinson’s disease

Dr Jaan-Olle Andressoo, supported by a € 2 million ERC Consolidator Grant, aims to seek treatment for Parkinson’s disease from a new angle – via enhancing the brain's own physiological processes.

The therapeutic and scientific potential of elevating normal gene function at its native sites of action is hypothetically enormous, but little is known about it.

“My main objective, with the help of my recent € 2 million ERC Consolidator Grant, is to develop novel tools that will enable upregulation of expression of one or more specific genes in their native context in the brain. The aim is to halt and possibly reverse the progression of Parkinson’s disease”, Dr Jaan-Olle Andressoo from the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki explains.

Genes and processes whose dysfunction results in Parkinson’s disease are in large known. However, the current tools do not allow to enhance physiological processes in a controlled and reproducible manner in the cells in the brain where those processes normally take place. Dr Andressoo’s research addresses just that specific problem.

Dr Andressoo will be employing concepts already developed or under development in his group using the new genome editing tool CRISPR-Cas9.

“My work may open a new venue for Parkinson’s treatment and it may also open doors for applying similar principles for the treatment of other diseases. My aim is also to create tools which will increase basic understanding on gene function ", Dr Andressoo, a recent receiver of another acknowledged international research grant - CIMED Young Investigator Grant at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, says.

Dr Jaan-Olle Andressoo currently holds a position of Principal Investigator in the Institute of Biotechnology, UH, and is Associate Professor (tenure track) in the University of Tampere.

See also: New treatments under development for Parkinson's disease

ERC fund­ing for five in the Uni­versity of Hel­sinki

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A total of 2,304 applications were submitted for the 2016 ERC application round and 314 been selected for funding.