Scots university researchers given huge £400K boost to ‘crack Parkinson’s’

A CHARITY is ploughing nearly £400,000 into ground-breaking research in a bid to crack the main causes of Parkinson’s which affects thousands of Scots each year – including Sir Billy Connolly.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh use cutting-edge technology in the two projects funded by Parkinson’s UK to understand how changes in brain cells may lead to the debilitating and deadly disease.

The Big Yin has talked candidly about living with the disease


The Big Yin has talked candidly about living with the diseaseCredit: PA
A whopping £400,000 will go into the ground-breaking research


A whopping £400,000 will go into the ground-breaking researchCredit: Getty

It is hoped the pioneering probe could open the door to new treatments, with one seeking to develop a “complete and accurate model of Parkinson’s in a dish” and the other focussed on a currently little-known gene, which could play a role in the development of the illness.

Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world and affects almost 13,000 people living in Scotland.

There are more than 40 different symptoms, ranging from tremor to anxiety. Some can be treated with medication, but the drugs often cause significant side-effects.

The big news comes after the Big Yin spoke candidly about living with the disease, following his diagnosis 10 years ago.

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During an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the 80-year-old – who lives in Florida – admitted that his life had changed “radically” – with his wife Pamela Stevenson having to dress

But the comic, who also walks with a stick and suffers short-term memory loss as a result – said his sense of humour keeps him going.

He added: “I think I’ve a good attitude to it. I say to the disease, ‘I’ll give you a break if you give me a break.’ We’re nice to each other…

“I am lucky with my sense of humour. I can laugh myself out of most things.”

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Parkinson’s UK – which is the largest member-led charitable funder of Parkinson’s research in Europe – has allocated £55.8 million to research projects in the UK over the last decade, including more than £6 million in Scotland.

The charity’s Scotland Director James Jopling said: “We are dedicated to funding research which will bring us new understanding and new treatments for Parkinson’s, faster.

“It’s fantastic to see new charitable investment in two cutting-edge research projects right here in Scotland.

“None of this would be possible without the incredible fundraising efforts of the Parkinson’s community here in Scotland.

“We fund the most promising Parkinson’s research, and it is brilliant that Scotland’s universities are at the forefront of global progress towards new treatments and a cure.

“The Parkinson’s community in Scotland is incredibly engaged with research, and having local access to world-class scientists enables them to become even more involved.”

Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world  – with no current cure or treatment that can slow, stop or reverse Parkinson’s. This urgency drives many people to do all they can to support Parkinson’s research.

David Rigg, 53, who lives in Cairneyhill, near Dunfermline, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s aged 46. He’s been involved in numerous research projects, including the recent trial of exenatide, a drug used to treat diabetes, which may slow the progression of Parkinson’s.

David, who is a member of the Dundee Research Interest Group, said: “I see research as the only chance there is to advance knowledge about Parkinson’s and move towards a cure or better treatments.

“I know there are more than a hundred trials happening at the moment, needing more than a thousand people to take part. If people do not take part, how can there be any progress?

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“Wherever a cure comes from, we are all going to benefit, so that’s great, but at the same time, it is brilliant to see research happening here in Scotland.”

Sir Billy Connolly and his wife Pamela


Sir Billy Connolly and his wife PamelaCredit: Getty

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