Research into Parkinson’s Disease supported by Michael J Fox Grant

24/Nov/2020     Health

Respiratory and Sleep Physician Associate Professor Lucy Burr and Neurologist Dr Daniel Schweitzer are collaborating with other leading Australian researchers on a clinical trial using a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) developed light therapy to target cells in the eye aimed to delay the motor function decline of people with Parkinson’s Disease.

The clinical trial is being led by Associate Professor Beatrix Feigl with QUT co-investigators Professors Andrew J. Zele and Graham Kerr plus University of Sydney Professor Simon Lewis and the project has recently received over $800 000 in funding from the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Shake IT UP Australia Foundation.

These funds will accelerate the project allowing A/Prof Burr and Dr Schweitzer to identify, recruit and study patients impacted by Parkinson’s Disease.

“Patients impacted by Parkinson’s Disease can have non-motor symptoms in the form of sleep and circadian disorders which are problems that occur when your sleep-wake cycle is not properly aligned with your environment and interferes with your daily activities,” A/Prof Burr said.

“This can be debilitating fo people impacted by Parkinson’s Disease as these sleep and circadian disorders can exacerbate a patient’s motor symptoms negatively impacting their walk, balance and tremors.

“There is evidence that bright light therapy could be effective in improving non-motor and motor symptoms of people with Parkinson’s Disease while also having a positive impact on their sleep.”

Mater Salmon Building Sleep Service will be holding the sleep study and is seeking to measure the effectiveness of bright light therapy on patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

“We are studying how melanopsin function is affected in Parkinson’s Disease and how this in turn maps onto non-motor symptoms among patients including sleep-related disorders. We are also interested in how light therapy can improve non-motor symptoms,” Dr Schweitzer.

“The team will be using both high and low melanopic-directed light therapy with the primary aim of the study to determine the effectiveness of high and low light therapy on sleep and circadian behaviour and the motor function of people with Parkinson’s Disease.

“We strongly hope bright light therapy will have a therapeutic benefit on patients with Parkinson’s Disease improving both their sleep and motor-function and having a positive impact on their overall quality of life.”

Public relations contacts

07 3163 6142