Investigators at UF’s Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease, or CTRND, earned a one-year, $200,000 award from the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Target Advancement Program to explore novel approaches to treat Parkinson’s disease.
The award will fund a study to determine how targeting cannabinoid receptor 2, or CB2, could alter the behavior of microglia that interact with alpha-synuclein, a protein that aggregates in Parkinson’s disease.
The researchers will use microglia isolated from the brains of mice, challenge them with forms of alpha-synuclein and evaluate the impact of treatment using CB2-acting compounds. Additionally, they will use a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease that overexpresses alpha-synuclein in the brain to visualize how cells labeled for CB2 directly interact with alpha-synuclein when in a native environment.
“We hope that this study will help us understand more about the role of CB2 in brain immune cells to remove toxic alpha-synuclein and potentially identify specific CB2-targeted therapies for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease,” said Valerie Joers, Ph.D., who will co-lead the study with CTRND Director Malú Tansey, Ph.D.