Researchers at the University of Lagos, UNILAG, have made a significant discovery in a previously unknown genetic variant that increases the vulnerability to Parkinson’s Disease in African and African admixed communities.
This breakthrough was made possible through the Global Parkinson’s Genetics Program; GP2, an international collaborative effort.
The investigation involved a diverse team, including the Nigeria Parkinson Disease Research network, International Parkinson’s Disease Genomics Consortium -Africa, University College London, the National Institutes of Health in the United States and 23andMe.
Guiding this pioneering research is Professor Njideka Okubadejo, a distinguished Neurology expert within UNILAG’s College of Medicine.
Okubadejo emphasizes the integral role of both local and international support in achieving this milestone, stating: “This GBA1 discovery is a stride toward a future where Parkinson’s research is inclusive, informative and therapeutic for all affected individuals”.
Commending the UNILAG team’s involvement in the GP2 project, Vice-Chancellor Prof. Folasade Ogunsola praised their significant impact on this breakthrough, affirming the university’s trajectory towards becoming a forward-looking institution with contributions spanning diverse fields.
Among the outstanding members of the UNILAG team collaborating within the Global consortium; GP2 are Dr. Oluwadamilola ‘Lara’ Ojo, Dr. Osigwe Agabi, Prof. Francis Ojini, Dr. Ismail Ishola, Dr. Francisca Nwaokorie, Mr. Roosevelt Anyanwu and Dr. Arinola Sanyaolu.
The identified variant within the GBA1 gene has emerged through the diligent efforts of GP2 researchers, who aim to catalyze worldwide collaborative investigations into the genetic underpinnings of Parkinson’s Disease and to redefine treatment approaches for African and African admixed populations.
While further exploration is essential to elucidate the exact workings of this novel variant, initial indications suggest a correlation with previously identified mutations in GBA1, resulting in diminished activity of the glucocerebrosidase; GCase enzyme.
Initiated by the Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s, ASAP, initiative, the Global Parkinson’s GP2 receives funding from the Sergey Brin Family Foundation and is executed by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, MJFF.
Launched in 2019 by ASAP, GP2 aims to build upon prior funding from MJFF, striving to extend genetic research efforts into populations historically underrepresented in scientific studies.
With collaboration spanning over 140 cohorts globally, GP2 endeavors to compile, generate and exchange data, unveiling fresh insights and commonalities in Parkinson’s disease.