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$2.5M funding to study genetic link among three chronic diseases


Ottawa, ON A team of researchers affiliated with the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute (uOBMRI) has been awarded a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to explore a possible genetic link among Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease and leprosy.

While the body’s immune system is known to play a role in multiple human disorders, the way it responds is complex and not fully understood. The grant will allow the team, led by Drs. David Park and Michael Schlossmacher, to test an intriguing hypothesis: that there is a common immune system link among these three seemingly unrelated diseases, a gene called LRRK2, believed to regulate immune system function.

Thus far, evidence collected by the uOBMRI team suggests that particular variants of the LRRK2 gene can result in abnormal immune response and subsequently lead to the development of Parkinson’s, Crohn’s or leprosy.

Dr. Park is uOBMRI director and a professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Schlossmacher is a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and director of the MD/PhD Program at the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine.