University of Kentucky College of Medicine researchers are focusing on preclinical development of technologies to deliver drugs directly into brain tissue to improve the function of degenerated nerve cells.
The research team is led by Greg Gerhardt, Ph.D., professor, and includes Don Gash, professor and chair, and Zhiming Zhang, M.D., assistant professor, all in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, UK College of Medicine.
The research will concentrate on modifying the Medtronic SynchroMed® Infusion System, an implantable and programmable pump developed by Medtronic Inc., to deliver drugs directly into the brain. The pump currently is approved for delivery of drugs directly to the fluid around the spinal cord in patients with chronic and intractable pain, cancer pain, and severe muscle spasticity, as well as the delivery of chemotherapy agents to treat colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver.
In support of this research program, the team at the UK College of Medicine has received a five-year, $5 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health, to establish a Parkinson's Disease Research Center of Excellence. Only eight centers were funded this year, bringing the total number funded to 11 nationwide.
The Parkinson's Disease Research Centers of Excellence program was developed in response to Senate Bill 535, also known as the Udall Bill in honor of former Congressman Morris K. Udall who died in December 1998 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. All the centers will be named Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Centers of Excellence.
In accordance with these federal requirements, UK will recommend to its Board of Trustees that the center be named the Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Center of Excellence.