The Michael J. Fox Foundation "Fast Tracks" $4 Million into Broad Range of Parkinson's Research Projects
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) has awarded approximately $4 million dollars in research grants in its annual Fast Track research initiative. Today the Foundation officially named 20 projects to be funded as part of the Fast Track 2002 investigator-initiated program, designed to stimulate novel, innovative and high-impact approaches to the field of Parkinson’s research.
Grant recipients were chosen from a large pool of international applications submitted by scientists from a myriad of disciplines. MJFF awarded scientists from six different countries. One of the review committee’s strategies for choosing projects was to accurately reflect the existing range of PD research from basic disease research to the advancement of patient-ready therapies. This year’s awards comprise a comprehensive portfolio reflecting a wide span of research topics including genetic studies, and neuroprotective and restorative strategies for treatment.
“Fast Track continues to allow the Fox Foundation to speed research funds to a broad array of novel Parkinson’s research projects,” explained
Grants in the Fast Track 2002 portfolio that approach PD from a basic cellular level include two studies on dyskinesias, the involuntary, uncontrollable movements that often result as a common side effect of long-term treatment with Parkinson’s medication. Recognizing the importance of potential genetic influences, the Fox Foundation has made three grants to genetic research, including a project that aims to characterize the function of the newly discovered DJ-1 gene in detail and study how mutations in this gene can lead to parkinsonism. An additional seven grants will study potential neuroprotective agents.
“Many of the projects we have chosen to fund are exciting not only because they will advance our understanding of the disease but also because they are positioned to quickly translate into clinical studies based on success of their final outcomes,” stated Dr. William Langston, chief scientific advisor to MJFF and the CEO of The Parkinson’s Institute.
Two such projects in particular stand out for their patient-ready approach. One will use patient data to study the neuroprotective benefits of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as aspirin and other common over-the-counter drugs, which have been found to protect dopaminergic neurons in animal models of Parkinson’s disease. Another explores the potential therapeutic effects of testosterone replacement therapy on non-motor symptoms in male Parkinson’s disease patients. Both of these studies will collect data directly from patients and strive to establish clear benefits for PD patients by assessing pre-existing therapies typically used in other contexts. This approach creates an accelerated timeframe in which positive results could quickly result in preventive treatments and patient therapies.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is pleased to announce the following grant awards for Fast Track 2002:
Asa Abeliovich, MD, PhD
Alberto Ascherio, MD, PhD
Erwan Bezard, PhD
Université Victor Segalen-Bordeaux 2
J.P. Bolam, PhD
Daniel Chase, PhD
Richard L. Davis, MD, PhD
David T. Dexter, PhD
Gilberto Fisone, PhD Angela Cenci-Nilsson, MD, PhD
Christian Haass, PhD
Peter Heutink, PhD
Dieter Jaeger, PhD
Seung-Jae Lee, PhD
The Parkinson’s Institute
Yong-Jian Liu, MD
Richard Nass, PhD
Michael Okun, MD
Amanda D. Smith, PhD
Motonari Uesugi, PhD
Jeffrey N. Joyce, PhD
Sun Health Research Institute
Richard Voellmy, PhD
The Fast Track program is one element of the Foundation’s research agenda to eliminate Parkinson’s disease within the decade. At the end of 2002, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research funded more than $17 million in research aimed at finding a cure for the disease. In addition, the Foundation partnered with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on their funding of an incremental $9.5 million in “Fast Track” research projects. In all, The Michael J. Fox Foundation has stimulated nearly $27 million in new funding for Parkinson’s disease research.