Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Anna Santaella (Donders series 460)

22 October 2020

Promotors: prof. dr. B. Bloem, prof. dr. A. van Gool
Co-promotors: dr. ir. M. Verbeek, dr. H. Kuiperij

Tackling Parkinson's disease: a proteomic approach to biomarkers and regenerative therapy

Parkinson's disease (PD) is the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder, affecting 1% of the population older than 65 years. At early stages, PD shares many symptoms and signs with other parkinsonism disorders. However, the rate of disease progression and response to treatment between these disorders differ widely. Clinical diagnosis still leads to a misdiagnosis rate up to 24%. Therefore, reliable biomarkers are needed to both accurately differentiate PD from other forms of atypical parkinsonism at early stages and predict disease progression.
Moreover, to date, there are only symptomatic treatments for PD, but no disease-modifying drug is available yet. Cell therapy has emerged as a potential therapy that could change the course of PD, but results are controversial and need further development. Especially, the use of biomaterials in combination with stem cells is a promising novel cell-based therapy that needs more detailed study.
Both the discovery of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, as well as the development of disease modifying therapies would have a huge impact on patients' well-being. The present thesis intended to tackle both 1) the discovery and validation of molecular biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis of PD and 2) the validity of collagen-encapsulated mesenchymal stem cells as a therapeutic approach.