From 1999 the Prana Laboratory has provided a collaborative scaffold for the development of drugs for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and atypical movement disorders such as Multiple System Atrophy and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.
A primary activity of the laboratory is the design and validation of in vitro screens for drug evaluation based on the concept that disruption of the regulation of biologically important metals such as copper zinc and iron is a key factor in the toxic cascade leading to neuronal injury and death. Candidate compounds emerging from the in vitro screening process are further evaluated in relevant animal models for motor and cognitive benefit with an emphasis on ability to preserve neuronal viability and function and effects upon the misfolded proteins implicated in these diseases.
The laboratory is also engaged in the selection and validation of biomarkers to monitor drug target engagement and clinical efficacy.
Scientists in the Neurodegeneration division interrogate how neurones live, die and can be rescued to improve brain function in degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Motor Neuron Diseases. There is no effective treatment for Motor Neurone Disease and the incidence of Parkinson’s Disease is rising alarmingly in our aging community. Gene abnormalities, energy deprivation, toxic rubbish accumulation and inflammation all contribute to a toxic environment for brain cells. Our teams study these events in animal models and cultured cells, with a view to translating knowledge into new therapies for human patients.