Last week, our research staff reflected on some of the projects that they worked on this past year that they believe could have the greatest impact on the Parkinson's patient community moving forward. Read on to hear directly from our team about some of 2012’s most exciting developments that took place at MJFF, and throughout the PD research field on the whole.
And check back in later in the week to find out what we’re looking forward to in 2013.
“Clinical trial results in 2012 showed that the pipeline for novel, non-dopamine-based therapies to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and dyskinesia, is strong. Novel drug candidates targeting brain chemicals such as glutamate, serotonin, and adenosine all returned encouraging results. I’m looking forward to following the progress of these potential drugs in the year to come.” – Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO
“2012 marked the launch of BioFIND, a unique collaboration with the National Institutes of Health. It is an arduous process to get a multi-site study like this one up and running, but I’m happy to report that we’re already now recruiting participants. I’m optimistic that BioFIND will provide us with critical leads in the search to find a biomarker for Parkinson’s disease, one of our Foundation’s priorities.” – Mark Frasier, PhD, vice president of research programs
“I’m impressed by how much clinical work the Foundation funded in 2012. We’ve seen some real progress in driving what were once early stage ideas into clinical testing. More and more targets have drug candidates that are moving forward along the pipeline, and ultimately, this is what we work for here at Fox.” – Alison Urkowitz, vice president of research operations
“This year, we had the opportunity to work directly with the Kinetics Foundation to address a budding hypothesis in the field – that alpha-synuclein spreads in the brain in people with PD. In partnership with Kinetics, we convened experts from the Parkinson’s space and across other neurological diseases to address next steps on how we might work together to develop drugs that target this so-called ‘prion-like’ nature of alpha-synuclein. I’m looking forward to expanding upon this intriguing conversation in the year to come.” – Niketa Sheth, associate director of research operations
“I’m very happy with how many dyskinesia projects are moving into clinical testing, especially as compared with just a few years ago. Particularly exciting this year: positive clinical results from Addex Therapeutics into their drug called dipraglurant. I’m hopeful that we’re getting closer to finding drugs to help provide relief for those living with this often debilitating side effect.” – Audrey Dufour, PhD, associate director of research programs
“I’m always impressed by the presentations that our scientists give — they have a unique ability to make science accessible to those of us who aren’t scientists. And I’m equally impressed by those scientists who work with us. It’s quite a group — in 2012 alone, we hosted more than 700 meeting participants. It’s good to know that so many are working to find a cure for PD.” – Kathleen Vestuto, coordinator of research operations
“Last spring, we announced that we had entered into a first-of-its-kind collaboration with pharma giant Sanofi on a clinical trial to test their drug candidate, previously in development for Alzheimer’s, in Parkinson’s patients. The hope is that the drug might work to treat cognitive decline in PD. By the fall, we had secured the necessary paperwork to begin building the infrastructure for the trial, which pending FDA approval, could begin in 2013. There are currently few treatment options for people with PD who experience cognitive challenges, so this marks an exciting step forward in the search for such a drug.” – Lona Vincent, associate director of research operations
“I’m proud of the number of resources we’ve helped to create, and then made available to researchers throughout 2012. By getting laboratory tools and data to the scientists that need them, fast and at little or no cost, we can help to accelerate critical research. In particular, researchers were able to mine resources taken from the decades-old DATATOP study that would have otherwise gone unused without our input. I’m looking forward to following how these resources provide new leads in the search for Parkinson’s drugs.” – Meredith Haupt, research operations officer