Published: 28 Sep 2020 | Last Updated: 28 Sep 2020 18:06:22

Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and UCL are launching a pioneering new study into the causes and progression of Parkinson’s disease, following a $7 million grant from the Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s (ASAP) initiative.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease of brain degeneration that occurs when brain cells that make dopamine, a chemical that coordinates movement, either stop working or die. This causes people with Parkinson’s to develop slowness, tremors, stiffness, and walking and balance problems. Parkinson’s affects over 130,000 people in the UK alone, and currently available treatments act only to alleviate symptoms, but not slow progression of the disease. This significant grant will enable the research team to explore the possibilities of future prevention and treatment of the condition.

Patrick Lewis
Dr Patrick Lewis

The researchers at the RVC, led by Dr Patrick Lewis, Professor of Neuroscience, have been awarded $659,000 from ASAP to use cellular and biochemical approaches to investigate the role of the LRRK2 gene in Parkinson’s.

Mutations in the LRRK2 gene are the most common genetic cause of Parkinson’s, making it a priority drug target for the disease, however the molecular details of how this gene can influence the progression of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s have not yet been fully explored.

Dr Patrick Lewis, Professor of Neuroscience at the RVC, said: “The Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s foundation grants represent a new way of approaching research into Parkinson’s, with the clear goal of accelerating progress in our understanding of this disorder. It is a real privilege to be involved in this initiative.”

Professor Jonathan Elliott, Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation) at the RVC, said: “The RVC is delighted to be part of this large collaborative effort to advance treatments for Parkinson’s Disease.  Neurodegenerative conditions significantly impact on the quality of life of our ageing human population in the UK and Professor Lewis’ role in this collaboration is exciting in its potential to uncover new drug targets to slow progressive loss of functioning neurons."

Two other studies, both led by research partners at UCL, will also be issued under the grant. One study will investigate the prevalence of gut bacteria in contributing to the cause of the disease while the other will seek to understand why some brain cells are more resistant to the pathological process of Parkinson’s.

Further information

For more information see The ASAP Collaborative Research Network

Notes to Editors

For more information please contact:

About the RVC

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a Member Institution of the University of London. It was the first in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.
  • The RVC is the top veterinary school in the UK and Europe, and ranked as the world’s second highest veterinary school in the QS World University Rankings by subject, 2020.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.
  • In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
  • A research led institution with 79% of its research rated as internationally excellent or world class in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  • The RVC provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals and first opinion practices in London and Hertfordshire.


Top of page