MMU Research Could Help Improve Parkinson’s Disease Treatments
Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

MMU Research Could Help Improve Parkinson’s Disease Treatments

Rachael Grealish November 4, 2022

New a research project led by MMU (Manchester Metropolitan University) could help improve treatments for Parkinson’s Disease.

It was announced today, November 3, a major research project to help improve treatments for Parkinson’s disease is to be carried out at Manchester Metropolitan University.

MMU Parkinson’s Disease Research

The team will collect brain images and record activity from deep brain electrodes that are implanted in people with Parkinson’s who have undergone deep brain stimulation surgery.

Substantia nigra. Illustration showing a healthy substantia nigra in a human brain. The substantia nigra plays an important role in reward, addiction, and movement. Degeneration of this structure is characteristic of Parkinson’s disease.

This information will help the researchers at MMU to understand how the brainstem influences Parkinson’s symptoms like balance and gait impairments.

It’s explained “thanks to advances in deep brain stimulation technology, developed by the medical device company Medtronic, it is now possible to wirelessly record activity from key brain regions for Parkinson’s”.

MMU researchers will reveal how connections between these brain regions and the brainstem influence brain activity when people perform movements and take their dopamine medication.

This could lead to new treatment strategies that target the brainstem to improve difficult-to-treat symptoms like “balance and gait”.

MMU collabs with NHS and Manchester Uni

The project will be led by Professor Nicola Ray from MMU’s Department of Psychology and her Co-Investigators at the Northern Care Alliance, Walton Centre (NHS Trust Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery) and The University of Manchester.

Professor Ray developed the ideas for the project from work she and her team have undertaken that shows that imaging the brainstem can help us to understand more about balance and gait deficits in Parkinson’s.

She said: ‘We know the brainstem degenerates in Parkinson’s, but we do not yet understand how it participates in symptoms like balance and gait impairment. If successful, our project will lead to the development of new treatments that improve how the brainstem communicates with the rest of the brain.’

The £1 million project will be supported by the Medical Research Council’s Experimental Medicine Panel, which funds research to understand diseases in humans and increase the speed and efficiency by which medical discoveries are translated into healthcare.

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know
Rachael is the Senior Content Editor at Freshered. She is NCTJ qualified with an MA in journalism. Rachael has almost ten years experience as a journalist in regional, national and international press and is passionate about creating engaging content.