University of Kentucky awarded $6 million for GDNF and related research

The University of Kentucky Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Center of Excellence has been awarded nearly $6 million from National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to continue work on the promising drug glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and similar compounds.

Greg Gerhardt, Ph.D., professor, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology and Department of Neurology, director of the Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Center of Excellence, and director of the Center for Sensor Technology, has headed the Udall Center at UK since its inception six years ago. As one of only 12 Udall Centers in the nation, UK's center represents the leading edge of research into Parkinson's disease, which at this point remains an incurable condition.

GDNF differs from other Parkinson's therapies in that it has demonstrated potential to halt or perhaps reverse the neurodegenerative condition. Current treatments only provide temporary relief from symptoms.

"The NINDS is pleased to continue the support of the University of Kentucky Udall Center, a unique component of the Udall center program that provides non-human primate studies of potential therapeutics in Parkinson's disease," said Diane Murphy, Ph.D., Program Director for the NINDS' Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Centers of Excellence.

Gerhardt and colleagues will spend the next five years investigating potential negative effects of GDNF, and how to fine tune dosing and administration techniques to make the therapy a safer and more viable alternative.

The $6 million funding from NIH represents a vote of confidence for the UK Udall Center and its work to date on GDNF and related molecules. At the end of this five-year funding cycle UK researchers plan to be ready to move GDNF or a related compound once again into human clinical trials a timetable considered ambitious by industry standards, but realistic to Gerhardt.


Contact: Allison Elliott
University of Kentucky

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