A successful union between experimental and clinical science
MultiPark is a translational strategic research area dedicated to improving treatment and care for people living with Parkinson’s disease or related disorders. MultiPark has been initiated and developed by researchers at Lund University with funding from the Swedish government. The aim of the strategic research area is to take research findings to the clinic with the long-term goal of improving the quality of life for Parkinson patients.
Lund University has a strong heritage in laboratory-based research focusing on various aspects of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Fundamental research is very important to understanding the nature and occurrence of the diseases. At the same time, in order to progress and create value for patients and society at large, symptoms need to be studies at a clinical level. This is why Professor Gunnar Gouras, an American trained neurologist and global expert in dementia, has joined MultiPark under the coordination of Professor Susanne Iwarsson.
“Both Parkinson and Alzheimer’s diseases are increasing more than other common diseases like for example cardiovascular diseases. They also pose a bigger challenge in general, as we are dealing with the human mind and brain, the most complex systems known to man. However, there are many aspects to treatments for those with these diseases some of which have proven successful and can also be extended to other areas, such as in the care of older people in general”, Professor Gouras explains.
Finding a cure
Cutting-edge therapies developed through MultiPark are targeting new ways to combat symptoms in addition to motor impairment, such as dementia, pain, depression and sleep disturbances.
Gunnar Gouras reveals that MultiPark aims to provide more help and ultimately find a cure for Parkinson’s and related diseases. “There are many steps to be taken before we have a cure. It is already possible to regenerate lost brain cells, and thus, theoretically regenerative therapies will one day be possible. But in order to achieve that we need to look at patients through all the stages of the disease. This will of course take time, science is unpredictable and the real challenge is to identify what works at the underlying cause of the disease”, he says.
Researchers at Lund University have proven that it is indeed possible to generate and even recreate lost brain cells. “However, it is an extremely complex process and we are still at an early stage”, stresses Gunnar Gouras.
Bonding across disciplines
The research conducted within MultiPark covers all aspects of understanding and treating Parkinson’s disease and related disorders, from cell to patient and population. The work essentially involves creating collaborative bonds across disciplines in order to facilitate the journey of discovery in the research laboratory to the development of therapies at the clinic and for home-based care. Also, research on how people living and ageing with the disease experience their life situation and participation in society is included.
The creating of collaborative networks and the building of a common infrastructure has significantly strengthened Parkinson’s related research in Lund and Medicon Valley. MultiPark involves researchers from neuroscience, nanotech, chemistry, physics, health science and gerontology, to name a few areas of expertise found in Lund.
“This environment provides for the motivation to build bridges between colleagues and researchers from various disciplines. Lund University undoubtedly has a lot to offer, and I think that more can be done to bring key experts closer within Medicon Valley so that we become one large community of globally acclaimed knowledge and competence. This is also the aim of MultiPark”, concludes Gunnar Gouras.