In an exciting new study, researchers at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY) and the CUNY School of Medicine, led by Dr. Andreas Kottmann, studied levodopa induced dyskinesias (LIDs) and demonstrated that inhibiting a protein called sonic hedgehog (Shh) decreased LIDs in animal models of PD. The study appears today in Communications Biology. Dr. Kottmann received funding for this work from APDA in 2015-2016 which enabled him to establish this line of research. The initial funding given by APDA led to important findings which were instrumental in Dr. Kottmann’s ability to secure a sizeable grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2016. The NIH grant allowed Dr. Kottmann to continue his research which led to the discoveries that are being published today.
The new paper shows that Shh acts as a neurotransmitter, or a chemical that neurons use to communicate with each other. Dr. Kottmann’s team found that dopamine neurons use Shh to talk with another group of neurons, cholinergic neurons, which are thought to play a role in LID. The research demonstrates that decreasing Shh signaling increases LID, but increasing Shh signaling reduces LIDs. The next step is to develop compounds that act to increase Shh signaling and thereby reduce LIDs, which could greatly help people with PD who struggle with LIDs.
In this video that summarizes APDA’s research program Dr. Kottmann (at 2:17 in the video), explains the crucial importance of the seed funding that APDA provided that led to his subsequent research success.
Dr. Kottmann expressed his deep thanks to APDA, stating APDA’s “initial grant did not only start this line of research but also set two young scientists (who were graduate students in Dr. Kottmann’s lab when the work was done) on a path of PD research.” Both students are continuing work on PD as post-doctoral fellows.
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