PHBM Academics Awarded Major Research Grants

Dr Swinny to Help Find New Ways to Treat Anxiety in Parkinson's sufferers


Dr Jerome Swinny from the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences has been awarded a project grant of £224,978 over 3 years starting from May 2017 to investigate the role of anxiety in people with Parkinson's and help towards finding a new treatment for this symptom.


Most people associate Parkinson’s with movement symptoms, but people with Parkinson’s also experience symptoms that don’t affect movement – such as pain, depression and anxiety. Around half of people with Parkinson’s have trouble with anxiety but we still don’t understand why it develops or the best way to treat it.


Research suggests that clumps of protein that develop inside the brain cells that are affected in Parkinson’s are also found in cells in the locus coeruleus. These protein clumps – known as Lewy Bodies – could affect the way these brain cells work and explain why people with the condition are more likely to experience anxiety. The researchers want to use a mouse model of Parkinson’s to understand the changes in the brain that could be linked to anxiety. We already know that these mice develop anxiety-like behaviours, which appear before movement symptoms.


As the locus coerulus is important for responding to stress, they want to look specifically at changes to the cells in this part of the brain that may be linked to anxiety. The team will study how these cells work with each other. They will then look for drugs that can reverse these changes in the brain and reduce anxiety-like behaviour in these mice. 


Most research to date has concentrated on treating the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s however in a recent survey of people affected by Parkinson’s and health professionals, ‘stress and anxiety’ was rated the second highest priority area of research for improving quality of life. This project will help us to understand what causes anxiety in people with Parkinson’s and lead us towards a new treatment for this symptom. 

Dr Hafizi  Awarded Major Grant to fund Multiple Sclerosis Research


Dr Sassan Hafizi, a Senior Lecturer from the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences has won nearly £180,000 to fund research that could help develop treatments for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients. 


The MS Society has awarded £177,930 to investigate the potentially beneficial role of Gas6, a molecule found in the central nervous system which could help reduce the immune attack of myelin.


Dr Hafizi's project will investigate how Gas6 works in mice with a condition similar to MS, and look at ways of targeting Gas6 to boost the natural myelin repair process in the brain.


Read more on UoP News.

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