MJFFís Maurizio Facheris, MD, MSc, associate director of research programs, recently spoke with Medscape (registration required), a Web site devoted to disseminating the latest news to physicians and health care professionals. The topic of conversation: new directions in the understanding and management of Parkinsonís disease (PD).†
Throughout the course of the article, Facheris highlights research projects devoted to finding new treatments for dyskinesia, and improving the delivery of levodopa into the bloodstream. He also discusses the prion hypothesis as it relates to alpha-synuclein-targeted drug development, and the Parkinsonís Progression Markers Initiative, the Foundationís landmark biomarker study.
Here, an excerpt in which Facheris talks about two of the latest intriguing approaches to PD therapeutic development.
Medscape: What were some of your personal PD-research highlights from this year's AAN meeting, including work both affiliated and not affiliated with the Fox Foundation?
Maurizio Facheris: I went to the AAN meeting with 2 goals. One was to get clinical perspective, and the other was to hear updates on potential research initiatives. I tried to attend as many sessions as possible on PD and was, first of all, pleased to know that several of the new topics presented at the AAN are already in our portfolio.
For example, there seems to be a lot of interest in the dopamine 1 (D1) receptor and potential agonists for it. We at the Foundation supported a D1 agonist as a potential therapy for dyskinesia. Dyskinesia is still a major adverse effect of levodopa for PD, and we are very interested in that specific area; it would be great if we could provide some benefit for dyskinesia associated with dopaminergic therapies. In this area, Addex Therapeutics [is working on] on dipraglurant, which is now moving toward phase 2b. Dipraglurant is a drug that targets glutamate receptors -- in this case, mGluR5.
I am also very excited about a technology using active transporters in the gastrointestinal tract to increase drug absorption that was developed by XenoPort. Levodopa is absorbed only in specific parts of the intestine, such as the duodenum. If a pill is ingested but is delayed in the stomach or doesn't release enough drug, then absorption of the drug is reduced.†
The XenoPort [technology]... moves the drug through the gastrointestinal tract and enhances its absorption.