East Midlands Project Engagement Meeting: Investigating the role of RAB39B in Parkinson’s

As part of the new Project Engagement Volunteer (PEV) scheme devised by Parkinson’s UK, the group of Prof Flaviano Giorgini at the University of Leicester was recently visited by four Project Engagement Volunteers associated with a recently funded project. This project – funded for three years by Parkinson’s UK – examines the role of the protein RAB39B in Parkinson’s.

The Rab family of proteins play a role in the movement of proteins and cellular components to ensure the cell can function properly. It has been previously found that individuals who have mutations in the gene for RAB39B exhibit signs of Parkinson’s.

Researchers in the Giorgini group have shown that when the fly version of the protein RAB39B is not working properly in fruit flies it leads to “symptoms” reminiscent of Parkinson’s. In the current study, Flaviano and the team will further investigate the role of this protein in normal cell function and how it contributes to Parkinson’s, as well as testing whether enhancing its function has a beneficial role in Parkinson’s models, such as fruit flies and mammalian cells.

As part of the visit, the Project Engagement Volunteers listened to several talks from the research team, had a discussion on future Project Engagement Volunteer scheme interactions between the volunteers and researchers, and had a tour of the laboratory and facilities. The talks covered the progress to date on the RAB39B project, as well as the role of genetics in Parkinson’s, and the Giorgini group’s work with Rab GTPases related to other neurodegenerative disorders (Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s).

“In this study we want to understand more about RAB39B and see if enhancing the protein could offer a potential therapy in models of Parkinson’s.

We hope this may enable the discovery of novel mechanisms and strategies for therapeutic intervention.” Professor Flaviano Giorgini

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