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Parkinson's disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease and PD is typically characterised by its 4 motor symptoms: resting tremor, slow movement, walking difficulty and postural instability, however, PD has many non-motor symptoms such as depression and inability to smell that typically occur before the disease is diagnosed.  PD is further characterised by the presence of abnormal neuronal masses, known as Lewy Bodies in those neurons that remain.

It currently affects over 1.2 million people across Europe with close to 1200 confirmed PD cases in Luxembourg. The annual cost of PD is estimated to be 13.9 billion euros while the number of people with PD is set to double by 2030 with an increasing ageing population (source).

The Translational Neuroscience group at the LCSB headed by Prof. Dr. Rejko Krüger aims to create an essential bridge between basic research and the clinic so that effective prevention, diagnosis and therapy may help the patients in Luxembourg and beyond.
Prof. Dr. Rejko Krüger is also available for weekly consultations at the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL) where he puts his long-standing expertise in Parkinson’s disease for the benefit of the patients by giving individual advice for treatment options. Furthermore, patients, as well as healthy people, can directly contribute to PD research by donating biological samples (e.g. DNA, skin). The DNA samples can be screened genetically for new PD genes. From the skin samples, cells can be grown in order to find distinctive patterns for the disease. Interestingly from the skin cells, we are able to check for similar disease patterns as found in the neurons.

The results generated from our basic research in collaboration with other groups at the LCSB will help to identify new biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Using automated drug discovery approaches coupled with advanced imaging methods, we can then identify new treatments for PD, not only in the form of medication but also alternative methods such as deep brain stimulation. This comprehensive strategy allows for the successful translation of pre-clinical discoveries back to the patients including advanced diagnostics and treatments for PD.

Figure: Image of a fibroblast, the mitochondria – the ‘energy plants’ of the cells - are shown in green (stained with mitotracker) and the lysosomes – the ‘garbage bins’ of the cells – are shown in red (stained with lysotracker)