By McGill Reporter Staff
Dr. Kalle Gehring, a professor in McGill University’s Department of Biochemistry, has been awarded a Pilot Project Grant by the Parkinson Society of Canada (PSC) for his ongoing work that looks at the molecular and cellular processes that underlie neurological diseases like Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
Through its National Research Program this year, PSC will fund 23 projects – representing $1.16 million in new funding – that research into the cure, cause, prevention, improved treatment and understanding of Parkinson’s disease and related disorders. Dr. Gehring’s proposal is one of eight $45,000 Pilot Project Grants awarded this year.
Dr. Gehring’s research project, Structural Studies of Parkin and PINK1, will study the structure of full-length parkin – a gene responsible for a common inherited form of PD – through the use of X-ray crystallography.
While Gehring and his collaborators have made great progress in understanding how the parkin functions, much remains unanswered about the interactions which control parkin activity and its role in PD.
“Various studies have revealed the structures of different fragments of parkin but there is a critical need to know how these pieces fit together in the full-length protein,” explained Gehring. “Given my lab’s expertise in structural studies of proteins and the expertise in PD of our collaborator, Montreal Neurological Institute’s Ted Fon, we are enthusiastic that this project will significantly advance our understanding of this devastating disease and provide molecular targets for future therapies.”
PD is a neurodegenerative disease affecting approximately 100,000 Canadians and over 4 million people worldwide. The disease is characterized by the degeneration and death of dopamine neurons in specific regions of the brain, causing neurological impairment. It is not known exactly what causes the death of these neurons. Currently, there is no cure.
For more information about Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson Society Canada or its national research program, please visit www.parkinson.ca