Michael J Fox pitches in to help Kiwis battle Parkinson's

Michael J Fox.
Michael J Fox. Photo credit: Getty

A new study into gene mutation aims could revolutionise how we treat Parkinson's Disease.

The University of Auckland's Liggins Institute has received $226,000 to investigate the genetics of the disease. The money comes from the Michael J Fox Foundation, set up by the Back to the Future star who is perhaps the world's best-known sufferer of the condition.

Prof Justin O'Sullivan says drawing connections in genes will help the development of targeted treatment.

"There's no simple explanation for why they're contributing to Parkinson's and how they're contributing to Parkinson's."

Prof O'Sullivan says the institute will look into the mutations in a gene known as GBA.

"We think this gene is really important, sort of like a switch. If you can change that switch and the way it behaves, then maybe there are ways you can alter the development of Parkinson's."

Around one in 500 Kiwis is affected by Parkinson's.

Scottish comedian Billy Connolly also has Parkinson's.

My life is slipping away and I can feel it, and I should" he recently confessed. "I'm 75, I'm near the end, But it doesn't frighten me - it's an adventure and it is quite interesting to see myself slipping away."