The Raine Medical Research Foundation has awarded The University of Notre Dame Australia School of Health Sciences a $175,000 Priming Grant for ground breaking research into therapies for neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD), using peptides rich in the amino acid, arginine.
“At present there are no neuroprotective treatments that directly reduce brain damage following acute injury, or in chronic neurodegenerative disorders,” says Dr Ryan Anderton, who is leading the study.
Peptides are chains of amino acids that function throughout the body in a variety of ways, such as allowing cells to communicate with each other. Due to their size and properties, small peptides containing arginine have the ability to enter the brain and penetrate cells. Peptides provide an exciting novel class of neuroprotective agent, with potential clinical application in acute and chronic neurological disorders.
Advanced pre-clinical studies using these peptides have shown promising results in reducing brain injury and neurological deficits in stroke, perinatal hypoxia and traumatic brain injury models.
Preliminary work performed by Dr Anderton and his colleagues at the Perron Institute via The University of Western Australia has confirmed arginine-rich peptides enter brain cells.
“Once inside cells, these arginine-rich peptides can affect mitochondria,” Dr Anderton says, “small energy producing structures within the cell that are impaired in disorders such as PD, presenting an innovative therapeutic approach for neurodegenerative diseases.”
The Raine Medical Research Foundation Priming Grants support Early Career Researchers to work towards larger national and international funding. This presents an exciting opportunity for Dr Anderton and partners at the Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Sciences, and Duke University – a private research university in America.
The grants provide funding for research into any area of medical science that investigates the nature, origin and cause of human disease, and the prevention, cure, alleviation and combating of such disease.
Notre Dame Dean of Health Sciences, Professor Naomi Trengove, says the grant was “well-deserved recognition” for Dr Anderton’s research.
“The Raine grant will assist in advancing this important work, which has the potential to improve health outcomes for people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases,” Professor Trengove says.
Steve Arnott, CEO of the Perron Institute where Dr Anderton is a Research Affiliate, believes this grant is an acknowledgment of the quality of research being conducted in this area.
“It’s a tribute, not only to the expertise and dedication of the team working on this research, but also the commitment and strength of our partnership with The University of Notre Dame Australia,” Mr Arnott says.