Understanding Parkinsons, Step by Step

Parkinsons DiseaseThe recently concluded Select BioCell Tech 2015 in Bangalore saw many reputed international scientists and researchers come together to speak on the latest developments in cell analysis and discuss the future direction for diverse bio-molecular and chemical biology research applications. Amongst the highlights was the keynote speech by Dr. Stephen Brown on the application of human genome screens using RNAi in the area of cell technology and bio-molecular development of Parkinsons disease.


Dr. Brown, a molecular geneticist, has been involved in many prominent projects relating to molecular genetics, particularly in functional genomics, and is currently working as the RNAi Screening Facility Manager, Department of Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield (UK).‹ ‹

He has been involved in over 50 RNAi and drug screens at the University of Sheffield,and had received a MRC Career Development Fellowship researching Novel mechanisms regulating the JAK/STAT signalling pathway.

The work that Dr. Brown spoke about was with Dr. Alex Whitworth’s group, which took place in the Drosophila RNAi Screening Facility established by Dr. Martin Zeidler, at the University of Sheffield. The group worked on developing a Parkinsons Disease (PD) screen in fruit fly cells and investigated the changes in sub-cellular location of the Parkin Protein using green fluorescent protein to visualise its movement during mitochondrial depolarisation.


Talking about the research, Dr. Brown said, The location of Parkin is important in Parkinson’s disease and an assay was developed to identify the genes and processes involved in Parkin-mediated mitophagy. Once the fly genome had been screened, the PhD student at the University of Sheffield, Rachel Ivatt, translated that model into a Human cellular assay using RNAi to knock-down the expression of target genes from the Fly screen. Dr. Brown added, These studies provide evidence for mechanistic insight into the pathogenesis of sporadic PD and why the master regulator for lipogenesis, SREBF1, may contribute to PD.

The Department of Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield is ranked number 1 in the UK for research excellence, earning top scores for both teaching and research. The teaching at Department of Biomedical Science is drawn from its pioneering research; including breakthroughs in human stem cells for hearing repair, the generation of animal models for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, muscular dystrophies, and their use for therapeutic studies.

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