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NIH awarding GVSU, VARI and Rush University $500,000 grant to pursue Parkinson's gene modification

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Grand Rapids continues to be a national leader in discovering a possible cure for Parkinson’s disease.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Van Andel Research Institute, Rush University and Grand Valley State University researches with a $500,000 grant to continue work on a genetic modification identified and developed at GVSU.

“That money is used to test an a agent that we have developed in our lab.”

Merritt DeLano-Taylor is associate professor of biomedical sciences at Grand Valley State University.

“We learned that this gene was behaving differently than we thought and could have promise for being helpful in therapeutics. But the challenge was that we wanted to modify it to make it more effective in how it actually did its job. And that was the inventive part about it.”

Delano-Taylor and his team of students took a fragment of DNA and introduced it into a developing chick embryo. The DNA was tracked to see how it changes the stem cell behavior.

“The grant then builds on this work by saying, ‘Okay, it looks like you have something promising in terms of how it can be helpful in generating and driving these neuroprotective factors.’ And so, maybe we can actually use them in models that mimic Parkinson’s disease.”

GVSU, Van Andel Research Institute and Rush University researchers hope to develop a new patent-pending technology. 

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.