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Development of BMP2 Neurotrophic Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

Project description

A new neurotrophic factor for Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease (PD) affects millions of people worldwide, and it is estimated that this number will have doubled by 2030 given the ageing demographic. Despite years of research, there is no therapy for PD. The EU-funded BMPARK project is investigating the potential of bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) as a neurotrophic factor to protect midbrain dopaminergic neurons in the brains of PD patients. Using a rat model of the disease, scientists will evaluate the efficacy of BMP2 in halting the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons and improving motor function. The project's results will decipher the mode of BMP2 action and contribute to the future development of clinical strategies for PD.


Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. PD affects more than 6 million people worldwide while 1.2 million people have PD in Europe. For the European economy PD has a total socioeconomic cost of €13.9 billion per annum. With the aging demographic the number of individuals affects by PD are projected to double by 2030 highlight the need for disease modifying therapies. The neuropathological hallmarks of PD are the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in a region of the brain known as the substantia nigra in the midbrain, and the accumulation of intraneuronal inclusions called Lewy bodies and lewy neurite that consist predominantly of a protein called α-synuclein. Despite over half a century of investigation, there is no disease modifying therapy for PD. I propose that a protein called bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)2 can protect midbrain dopaminergic neurons in the PD brain. BMP2 is distinct from other neurotrophic factors used in the clinical trials to date in that it has a different signalling mechanism that can be targeted to protect dopaminergic neurons. Here I will assess the neuroprotective efficacy of viral vectors carrying the BMP2 transgene in the rat α-synuclein model of PD. I will determine if this molecular therapy can protect dopamine neurons and their axons against α-synuclein induced degeneration to maintain brain dopamine levels and improve motor function. To do this, I will use a multidisciplinary approach which will be paralleled by intensive training and career development opportunities to enable me to make a transformative contribution to knowledge and to achieve professional maturity and independence. In this way, this work has direct relevance for the future development of neurotrophic factors for clinical use in PD and the extensive dissemination and communication plans to target all stakeholders will ensure both societal and scientific impact in an European context and also for individuals with PD.


Net EU contribution
€ 184 590,72
Western road
T12 YN60 Cork

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Ireland Southern South-East
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00