Recently, loss-of-function mutations of the GBA1 gene, which encodes glucocerebrosidase (GCase), have been characterized as a major genetic risk for Parkinson’s disease (PD). Patients carrying these mutations have a much higher incidence of PD, earlier onset, and more severe disease.
These data strongly suggest that GCase activity may be useful for early diagnosis as well as monitoring the progression of PD. Dr. Gros will build on her previous work describing a substrate that specifically measures GCase activity both in vitro and in neuronal cells in microscopy. This research will lead into a proof-of-concept clinical study, using a flow cytometry assay to establish correlations between the progression of PD, GBA1 mutant status and GCase activity.
The results of this study will lead to the development of a new assay for clinical studies that will benefit Parkinson’s patients and deepen our overall understanding of the disease.