Appointment of M. Josep Martí, Group leader
Research requires effort, time, motivation, enthusiasm and inspiration

Current research

Problem

Parkinson’s disease is a common disorder and its incidence is expected to increase in coming years. Although its causes are not yet known, it has been established that genetic and environmental factors intervene and, in some cases, it is difficult to diagnose with precision.

At present, no curative treatments exist, only measures for stabilising and controlling the symptoms. One of the main problems, however, is that by the time that the most characteristic motor symptoms become apparent, the death of most of the dopaminergic neurons in the brain, which are essential for motor function, has already occurred.

This pre-symptomatic phase is common to all neurodegenerative diseases, so it is important to extend research in order to apply treatments that will restore or modify the progression of these pathologies.

Approach

The group conducts in-depth clinical studies, develops clinical trials and engages in neuroimaging, genetic, genomic and biomarker studies related to Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders, such as Huntington’s disease and dystonia.

In addition, it conducts research on the initial stage of Parkinson’s disease in patients at risk of developing this condition, when its motor symptoms have not yet appeared and neuroprotective therapies are still possible.

Impact

The group’s research has made it possible to create complete biorepositories of biological samples from patients with Parkinson’s disease (blood, cerebrospinal fluid, urine, DNA, RNA and cells) for use in future research projects.

Using these biorepositories, the group aims to investigate the presence and applicability of biomarkers that are useful in the correct diagnosis and prognosis of Parkinson’s disease and atypical Parkinsonian disorders.

Through the use of cell models, it strives to obtain information about the basic molecular processes associated with Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, as well as genetic associations among the population, to locate risk genes.