The University of Aberdeen has announced that researchers have made a significant breakthrough in understanding SMA.
Funding for this research came in part from one of our member organisations, The SMA Trust.
Vanessa Christie-Brown, Research Co-ordinator at The SMA Trust commented “We are delighted to have funded Professor Parson’s work on vascular involvement in SMA. This is an area of research which, beyond the heart, has not been looked at in SMA, as efforts have mainly concentrated on the role of SMN and its pathways. For the first time, vascular abnormalities, leading to functional defects, have been shown in patients. Professor Parson’s findings may identify potential targets for therapy which would benefit all individuals living with SMA. We look forward to following and supporting Professor Parson’s future research projects.”
Professor Simon Parson, Chair in Anatomy at the University of Aberdeen, and colleagues at Edinburgh, Oxford and University College London, have, for the first time, shown that insufficient blood supply likely contributes to motor neurone loss in SMA.
In a paper published in Annals of Neurology, Professor Parson describes how his research suggests that expanding the focus beyond the nervous system to include the vascular system is important for developing effective treatments for the disease.
Professor Parson said: “SMA presents itself like a motor neuron disease so research and treatment has been focussed mainly around protecting motor nerve cells. But, we have shown that in SMA, the blood vessels that course through every structure in the body are also severely affected. Importantly, this results in reduced delivery of oxygen to the body, including the motor nerve cells which die in SMA. This new information provides us with an entirely new avenue for research and the development of potential therapies for this devastating disease.”
Simon Parson was formerly of Edinburgh University where some of this work was carried out. He is part of the Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neurone Disease (Edinburgh), a Scotland-wide centre for the study of motor neurone diseases.
Source: University of Aberdeen