Members of the Grantham branch of Parkinson’s UK were able to hear about the work their donations have been funding in Canada – directly from the professor behind the research, via Skype.
The fascinating update was a rare opportunity and a highlight of an informative event which saw several speeches from leading researchers into the condition.
Held at the Jubilee Life Church in Grantham last Tuesday, the event was hosted by president of the Grantham branch Brenda Kinnish, who founded it back in 1983.
Brenda gave a welcome address to the audience before handing over to the first of several speakers, Steve Ford, CEO of Parkinson’s UK.
He said it was “encouraging” to see how strong the Parkinson’s support is in Grantham. He went on to talk about the work of the charity and its role in promoting Parkinson’s within the NHS.
Next to take the microphone was Professor Oliver Bandmann, from the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience. He spoke to the audience about the progress in his own research, explored the similarities between Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases and talked about drugs patients are currently trialling.
Then it was time for the laptop to take centre stage, connected with Dr Lorraine Kalia, assistant professor at the movement disorders centre at the University of Toronto, Canada.
It is Dr Kalia’s research that is being partly funded by donations from the Grantham branch of Parkinson’s UK. The national charity offers individual branches the opportunity to adopt a project, and Grantham members chose to support Dr Kalia’s research as it “may lead to benefits in the shorter term rather than the efforts being made to find a cure or arrest the progression of Parkinson’s”.
The audience was captivated as she talked about her work with C. elegans, tiny worm organisms which measure around 1mm and are known to share similar disease genes and disease pathways with humans. By working with these organisms, it is hoped that her team will learn more about Parkinson’s and will lead to better understanding and treatment.
Following a Q&A, during which members of the audience with the disease asked questions of Prof Bandmann, chairman of the Grantham branch Mos Kalbassi gave a few words.
He said: “We know such a large number of people in our community who suffer from Parkinson’s.
“Thanks to the people who support the branch’s causes, to donors, to the medical profession and to carers.”
Special guests at the event were Mayor of Grantham Councillor Linda Wootten and her husband, Coun Ray Wootten.
The Parkinson’s UK Grantham Branch offers information, friendship and support to local people with Parkinson’s, their families and carers.
For more information, contact membership secretary Kate Manley on 01778 441307 or katharine firstname.lastname@example.org