Parkinson’s Disease Research

Every hour, two more people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s

More than one million people in the UK are affected by Parkinson’s disease including families and friends of people with a diagnosis. 

There are currently around 145,000 people with Parkinson’s disease and it is estimated that the UK prevalence of Parkinson’s will increase by a fifth by 2025.

Currently, there is no cure but the understanding of Parkinson’s and its symptom management is advancing.

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be a life-altering event for an individual and their loved ones. There can be motor symptoms such as tremor, rigidity or stiffness and slowness of movement and there can be non-motor symptoms including anxiety, depression, pain, memory loss or even dementia that can change the accessibility and quality of life of an individual. 

Parkinson’s disease is known to be progressive and symptoms can change and get worse over time.

Working together to improve treatment and wellbeing

“Parkinson's is a horrible condition and I would not wish it upon anyone. I was diagnosed at 40, and it has robbed me of an active and productive middle age, and it will deny me a happy retirement. It has also stopped me from being the dad that I wanted to be to my three children, and it has taken away from my wife the happy, sociable, active man that she married 30 years ago. 

It's not just the physical symptoms that are so cruel, but the unseen non-motor ones like anxiety, depression and poor sleep that impacts so heavily on myself and all of my family. 

There is currently no cure for Parkinson's on the horizon, but I consider myself to be lucky because I have had some great therapy from all sorts of healthcare professionals, and with their help, and the love and support from my family and friends I know that I can lead as normal a life as my condition allows.” 

Mark Hoar, diagnosed at 40 and video with John Whipps, diagnosed at 54

John Whipps, diagnosed aged 54

“We want to help people with Parkinson’s to live the best lives they can for as long as they can.” Dr Camille Carroll, Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant Neurologist
Working with patients, our scientists, clinicians and expertise from across the spectrum of scientific discovery, medical research and health technology, they are conducting world-class laboratory clinical and applied health research.

This includes investigating new interventions, therapies and approaches to improve and personalise current therapies and care practice, support early disease detection, monitor disease progression and ultimately grant patients a better quality of life.

An important area of this work has been in the development of a Parkinson’s Disease DNA bank with 2,700 samples, overseen by Dr Camille Carroll and a regional Parkinson’s clinical research register.

Parkinson's Research Group

Professor Edgar Kramer leads the University’s Parkinson’s Research Group that looks at the development and maintenance of the nervous system at a molecular and cellular level. This is crucial to understanding Parkinson’s, a disease characterised by the premature death of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. Professor Kramer and his team are seeking to understand the causes and mechanisms that lead to nerve cell deaths. Through a project funded by the charity BRACE, they focus on applying new knowledge to inform novel treatments or Parkinson’s disease in order to improve current practices and grant patients a better quality of life.

Find out more about the Neurodegenerative Disease – Parkinson’s Research Group.

Applied Parkinson’s Research Group

Dr Camille Carroll leads the Applied Parkinson’s Research Group that focuses on clinical trials of neuroprotective interventions in Parkinson’s, digital innovation for care and research, and genetic aspects of Parkinson’s.

Intrinsic to their work is the person-centred care approach. Dr Carroll and her team collaborate with an engaged and eternally optimistic community of Parkinson’s patients. Engaging with them from the very beginning, they provide research and health interventions that challenge the ‘status quo’ bio-medical approach to treating the illness and place as much control and influence over decisions on health and care in the hands of patients, care partners and the community. These co-designed pathways provide choices to patients and treatments that are sustainable in the long-run.

Find out more about the Applied Parkinson’s Disease Research Group.

Parkinson's Researchers

Key publications

Carroll C, Webb D, Stevens ??? KN, Vickery J, Eyre V, Ball S, Wyse R, Webber M, Foggo A & Zajicek J 2019 'Simvastatin as a neuroprotective treatment for Parkinson’s disease (PD STAT): protocol for a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled futility study' BMJ Open, DOI PEARL

Carroll CB, Wyse RKH & Grosset DG 2019 'Statins and Parkinson's: A complex interaction' Movement Disorders 34, (7) 934-935, DOI PEARL

Carroll CB & Wyse RKH 2017 'Simvastatin as a Potential Disease-Modifying Therapy for Patients with Parkinson’s Disease: Rationale for Clinical Trial, and Current Progress' Journal of Parkinson's Disease , DOI PEARL

Carroll C, Kobylecki C, Silverdale M & Thomas C 2019 'Impact of Quantitative Assessment of Parkinson’s Disease-Associated Symptoms Using Wearable Technology on Treatment Decisions' Journal of Parkinson's Disease 9, (3) 601-601, DOI PEARL.

The doctor won’t see you now: the role of technology to support participatory health care – Dr Terry Gorst

Read Dr Terry Gorst's take on the role of technology to support participatory health care as seen in Times Higher Education. Dr Gorst discusses the Home Based Parkinson's Care project in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering technology and empowerment of patients, care partners and families as one of the solutions to decrease the pressure on stretched health services and provide effective care pathways for individuals with Parkinson's. 

Read the full article

Part of The Old Normal: Our Future Health series

Brain Research & Imaging Centre

The Brain Research & Imaging Centre (BRIC), the most advanced multi-modal brain imaging facility in the South West, will provide the sea-change to enhance the quality of our research in human neuroscience.

With seven cutting-edge human research laboratories, BRIC will include an MRI suite with the most advanced 3-Tesla scanner in the region. It will critically advance our enquiry toward the most advanced brain research, improved radiological diagnostics and better patient care.

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Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research

From basic research discovering the causes of disease, through to evaluating novel ways of delivering care to the most vulnerable people in society, our thriving community conducts adventurous world-leading research

Transformation in life course, ageing, methodologies, eHealth, technology and interventions in health, social care, lifestyle and wellbeing.

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