In July 2011, Dr Austen Milnerwood, Dr Mathew Walker, Dr Lucia Tapia, Prof Lynn Raymond and Prof Vesna Sossi attended the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) Annual LRRK2 Biology Summit Meeting, hosted in Tarrytown, NY.
The aim of the meeting was to discuss ongoing efforts by Fox Foundation-supported researchers to determine the underlying biology of leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2),a protein linked to Parkinson’s disease (PD). Mutations in LRRK2 represent one of the most common genetic links to PD discovered to date (an estimated 1-2% of cases in the US); given its putative role as a protein kinase, LRRK2 has garnered much excitement among drug developers as a possible novel therapeutic. With the hope of accelerating new treatments for PD, MJFF has made further study of LRRK2 a priority, with efforts focused on: understanding LRRK2 function; development of relevant tools, models and assays; increasing the clinical and genetic understanding of LRRK2 in PD; to ultimately promote therapeutic development.
At the meeting, Dr. Austen Milnerwood and Prof. Vesna Sossi jointly presented: “Electrophysiology and multi-tracer PET in the characterization of LRRK2 mutations”. Their talk gave an overview of the highly integrative program at the University of British Columbia, using several approaches to investigate LRRK2 function; from human imaging, clinical and genetic research of human populations in Tunisia and Norway, to imaging and electrophysiological investigation in rodent models, down to fundamental cell biology in neuronal culture systems.
The meeting brought together many of the world’s foremost experts to assess the current state of the field, to examine what activity is currently ongoing, determine what the remaining challenges are, and ultimately recommend ways MJFF and the field can prioritize and advance future LRRK2 efforts. This meeting not only informed international research groups of the progress being made by their peers, but also sparked new research directions in a highly collegial environment.
For more information about the Michael J. Fox Foundation please go to: www.michaeljfox.org