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Sizing Up PD: Cavity-enhanced Characterisation of Single Biomarkers in Human Biofluids

Project description

A new diagnostic tool for Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterised by the misfolding and aggregation of α-synuclein into Lewy bodies. Understanding how the oligomers formed from this process cause cellular toxicity and disease is paramount to determining the molecular origins of PD. To address this issue, the EU-funded SUPD project will combine spectroscopy and fluorescent technologies to study α-synuclein oligomers in the cerebrospinal fluid of PD patients and healthy individuals. The generated method of measuring α-synuclein oligomer size and structural properties can serve as an early diagnostic tool for PD and may generate opportunities for therapeutic intervention.


Parkinson’s disease is the most common movement disorder caused by neurodegeneration, for which there is no cure, no way of modifying the disease and no clinically accepted diagnostic tool. In the brain, the intrinsically disordered monomeric protein α-synuclein misfolds, aggregates and accumulates to form proteinaceous inclusions termed Lewy bodies. This process forms ‘oligomers’, intermediates in the aggregation pathway that are strongly implicated in the cellular toxicity that causes the disease. Oligomers are exceedingly challenging to study with traditional biophysical techniques because of their low abundance and variability in size, structure and stability. My research proposal aims to develop a new method capable of measuring the size and structural properties of single oligomers in human cerebral spinal fluid. By employing technologies in the field of cavity-enhanced spectroscopy and combining these with existing tools in single-molecule fluorescence I will investigate how the properties of oligomers in cerebral spinal fluid differ between healthy and Parkinson’s disease patients. In order to determine the molecular origins of Parkinson’s disease we need a comprehensive understanding of these pathogenic species. Achieving this goal will enable us to develop an early diagnostic tool which in turn will generate opportunities for therapeutic intervention.


Net EU contribution
€ 289 732,80
Trinity lane the old schools
CB2 1TN Cambridge
United Kingdom

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East of England East Anglia Cambridgeshire CC
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Partners (1)