With the help of an $8.5 million grant, a UK researcher will lead an international team of scientists to pursue a cure for Lafora’s disease, a deadly neurodegenerative condition.
Lafora’s disease appears in patients during adolescence and causes severe epilepsy, loss of speech and muscle control, and dementia, eventually leading to death.
Under the guidance of University of Kentucky College of Medicine Professor Matthew Gentry, the five-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant establishes the International Epilepsy Cure Center based at the UK College of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Medicine and Biochemistry. The center represents a collaborative effort to advance translational research and improve the diagnosis and treatment of Lafora’s disease, with the ultimate goal of finding a cure.
The center, which is funded by an NIH Program Project Grant, provides a framework for uniting multidisciplinary researchers in conducting important research exploring the molecular mechanisms that underlie Lafora’s disease.
The team comprises distinguished basic science researchers from around the world, including Gentry, a professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry at UK, Joan Guinovart in Barcelona, Spain; Berge Minassian of the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto, Canada; Peter Roach of Indiana University; and Jose Serratosa of Autonoma University of Madrid in Madrid, Spain.
“It is an amazing opportunity to lead this group of distinguished scientists from around the world towards such an important goal,” Gentry said. “Each of us have worked independently for more than a decade on Lafora’s disease and this grant now brings us together to develop the first cure for an epilepsy.”