In the Barker / Williams-Gray lab, at the John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair, we are researching the neurodegenerative diseases Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.
We run both clinical and laboratory-based research focused on determining what causes these diseases and how we can improve the lives of patients living with them.
Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited disorder that is caused by an abnormal gene. The faulty gene leads to the production of a mutant form of a protein called huntingtin which over time accumulates in nerve cells and causes them to become unwell and then die off. The resulting features are the development of abnormal involuntary movements (typically chorea or dance like movements), a change in personality, thinking problems and in some patients difficulties with mood, weight and sleeping. We have some drugs that can help with some of these aspects of HD but we currently have no agents that can slow down or stop the condition from developing. Our clinical studies in HD concentrate on better defining what goes wrong in patients (especially around complex forms of thinking and planning) and why patients may present in different ways and progress differently. We are also very active in trying new treatments to help patients with HD including trials sponsored by drug companies (such as the Roche ASO trial in HD) as well as trials that we have set up based on our work in the lab. We run the regional NHS clinic for HD, where we see a range of individuals from those who carry the gene but have no features of HD, through to patients with advanced disease.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a common neurological disorder causing problems with slowness, rigidity of movement, and tremor. It also causes a wide-range of ‘non-motor’ symptoms including problems with memory and thinking, mood, sleep, gastrointestinal and bladder symptoms. The movement problems are largely due to a loss of dopamine-producing brain cells in the substantia nigra, and can be treated with drugs which replace dopamine. However other symptoms can be much more difficult to treat, and we have no therapies as yet to prevent cell loss and slow down the underlying progression of the disease. Our clinical studies in large groups of patients have established that PD is highly variable from person-to-person in terms of symptoms and rate of progression. A major focus of our research is trying to better describe this variability and understand the biological reasons for it. Our ultimate goal is to develop new treatment strategies which are targeted to particular subgroups of patients.
Please see information below (click link) regarding an upcoming webinar about the HDA Youth Engagement Service which supports young people in families where there is HD.
An exciting new opportunity for Roger Barker – LifeArc appoints new chair for neurodegeneration efforts.
Don’t miss out on this great opportunity “BRAIN AND BEYOND” taking place on 3rd November between 14:30-19:30 at the Forum in Norwich.
The 33rd annual Cambridge Neuroscience Seminar was held on Tuesday September 26th 2023 at Robinson College.
Two months ago the international Parkinson’s community came together under one roof in Barcelona, Spain for the 6th World Parkinson Congress. For further information please visit: World Parkinson Congress (wpc2023.org)
Congratulations to Marta Camacho from the Barker/ Williams-Gray lab. Her figure is on the front cover of the current issue of Movement Disorders:
New online questionnaire study on loneliness in in individuals with Huntington’s Disease.
This is an online questionnaire study which will take approximately 20 minutes. Any HD gene carrier with and without disease symptoms is welcome to participate. You only need to be over the age of 18 and cannot be a fulltime carer for someone. If you would like to participate in the study, please follow this link https://redcap.link/ulb2ukac or scan the QR code. For any questions, please message firstname.lastname@example.org.
05/06/2023 – Parkinson’s Disease Open Day 2023
We had yet another great PD Open Day – it was wonderful to enjoy everyone’s engagement in PD research and see scientists and participants sharing thoughtful insights on past and future research.
Please find the presentations under ‘The Parkinson’s Disease Research Clinic’ heading.
Want to know more about the growing links between sleep loss and dementia? Have a listen to this fantastic piece by Zanna Voysey! Click here to listen.
An interesting read from Euro GCT on Parkinson’s Disease and how gene and cell therapy could help. View webpage here
Have a look at the latest Parkinson’s UK Cambridge branch newsletter which has a feature piece from a publication from Caroline Williams-Gray in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. This article…
HD Webinar Last month we held a HD webinar, giving updates on what is going on within our clinic and research studies. Please take a look. Click here