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NeuroSurgical Research Foundation

Parkinson's Research

The NeuroSurgical Research Foundation (NRF) funds leading research into Parkinson’s Disease at the University of Adelaide.

Researcher Dr Lyndsey Collins-Praino from the Adelaide Medical School said funding from the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation would result in a rich database on how decision-making is altered in Parkinson’s disease (PD), how these alterations are influenced by specific genetic factors, as well as by motor subtype of the disease, and how decision-making may decline over time.

Being able to track changes in decision-making over the course of the disease is a critical first step for developing a way to predict risk and progression of cognitive decline in PD and to potentially prevent it.

“We now have the opportunity to pair a comprehensive, custom-developed cognitive testing battery with cutting-edge genetic analyses and machine learning paradigms to try to predict who is at risk for cognitive decline in Parkinson’s and the rate at which such decline will happen,’’ Dr Collins-Praino said.

“This research is foundational for developing early intervention protocols which may be able to help us slow, or even prevent, the onset of this debilitating symptom of Parkinson’s.”

Dr Irina Baetu, senior lecturer in the University of Adelaide’s School of Psychology and co-researcher said, “Analyses will target genetic variation that is linked to changes in specific brain circuits to help researchers predict an individual’s response to medication, to identify which individuals may benefit most from dopamine replacement medication, and which individuals may instead show pronounced negative cognitive side effects." 

Early detection of cognitive decline could be particularly beneficial for implementing targeted interventions to slow down or even prevent cognitive and motor dysfunction not only in PD but also in healthy ageing.



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