Scientist thanks Parkinson’s group for helping pioneering research

Dr Dayne Beccano-Kelly, whose three-year study at Cardiff University is looking to improve our understanding of the condition, and lead to more effective treatments, has hailed the group for its “generous and humbling” donation of £2,500.

The project is being funded through a substantial £324,695 grant from Parkinson’s UK, which has been made possible by the funding generated by volunteers as well as other supporters.

Ana Palazon, country director of Parkinson’s UK Cymru, thanked the “fantastic” Parkinson’s community for its contributions to the grant.

Dr Beccano-Kelly’s project will involve using stem cells generated by collaborators that have been made from skin cells that have been donated by people who have the condition using a combination of “reprogramming factors”.

South Wales Argus: Parkinson’s UK Cymru: Dr Dayne Beccano-Kelly

Dr Dayne Beccano-Kelly

Stem cells have the potential to become almost any other cell in the body, making them a useful tool to study conditions such as Parkinson’s, as they can be made into neurons, making studying the brain more accessible.

Once this is complete, the newly-formed stem cells are turned into neurons which are examined in a complex and intricate set of experiments using a high tech piece of kit called an electrophysiological rig.

People with Parkinson’s don’t have enough of the chemical dopamine in their brain because some of the brain cells that make it stop functioning correctly.

The research is looking at how the communication between cells and the cells’ recycling system are linked. Both are known to be affected in people with Parkinson’s, but it is not clear how they impact upon one another.

Dr Dayne Beccano-Kelly’s team at the UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff University wants to know how cells in the brain deteriorate over time in those with the condition, which could aid the development of earlier and better targeted treatments.

South Wales Argus: Parkinson’s UK Cymru: Dr Dayne Beccano-Kelly

Dr Dayne Beccano-Kelly

He said: “We feel incredibly humbled and are very grateful to the Chepstow and District Parkinson’s Support Group, who have made a generous contribution to our recent award. It is thanks to their support and others like them that we are able to conduct this research.

Ana Palazon said: “Parkinson’s is the fastest neurological condition in the world, and it is vital that we gain a better understanding of how the cells in the brain communicate with each other in people who have the condition so we can develop better targeted and more effective treatments.

“We are incredibly grateful to our fantastic Parkinson’s community because the funding generated by volunteers and many other generous donors helps fund pioneering research like this.”

Stephen Lewis, treasurer of the Chepstow and District Parkinson’s Support Group, who has been involved with the group since 2008, and whose wife Kate Lewis passed away with the condition aged 79, said: “Each year we try to fundraise and we put various events on through the year, and any money we raise through those, or donations made to the group, we ringfence towards research. At the end of the year we see what money we’ve got available and we send that on.

“This year we found we could allocate our money to specific projects. We looked up the various projects that Parkinson’s UK were running and noticed there was one from Cardiff University on this brain cell recycling. So I put it to the members and we agreed we would allocate it towards that specific project instead of general research.

South Wales Argus: Parkinson’s UK Cymru: Dr Dayne Beccano-Kelly

Dr Dayne Beccano-Kelly

Stephen said: “My wife had Parkinson’s for many years and when we moved to this area we joined this local group. Although my wife passed away at the end of 2018, I was treasurer then and I’ve just continued in the role.

“The group helped myself, my wife and all its other members by supporting people who come along by giving advice and help, and chats between members about how they’re coping with their Parkinson’s, their medication, and any issues they may have. It’s a chat forum between members to help each other.

“We run monthly meetings and we tend to have a speaker each month on different topics. We also run a number of different events to raise money. We also run an art group which is very useful and very therapeutic.”

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