The Michael J. Fox Foundation is a venture philanthropist, investing non-dilutive funding in high-risk, high-reward therapeutic development projects from industry with great potential for patient impact. This support enables companies to build data that attracts larger funders and strategic collaborators.
Developing new treatments to slow or stop Parkinson’s and manage its symptoms takes innovation and risk. Many projects with sound scientific rationale and grand potential to make a difference in patient lives lack the financial resources to properly vet their approach. The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) gives non-dilutive funding to early-stage (pre-clinical and clinical) studies This early investment helps companies build the data packages that attract larger funders and strategic collaborators with resources and expertise to advance these therapies through later-stage clinical testing, regulatory review and commercialization.
Key Deliverables and Results
A number of MJFF-funded companies have seen collaborations and acquisitions that have allowed them to speed their pipeline closer to market. The following are only some of the dozens of projects that have received follow-on funding after MJFF de-risking grants:
- With a total of $1.3 million, MJFF supported Phase I and II studies of inhaled levodopa for “off” rescue from biotech Civitas. After multiple rounds of venture funding, Civitas was acquired by Acorda in 2014 for $525 million. The therapy Inbrija is under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Another “off” rescue therapy — MJFF granted nearly $1 million to biotech Cynapsus’ for its Phase I study of an under-the-tongue thin-film apomorphine — Cyanpsus was acquired by Sunovion in 2016 for $624 million, and its drug is now under FDA review.
- Biotech Neuropore developed a small molecule targeting alpha-synuclein for disease modification with close to $750,000 in pre-clinical funding from MJFF. Neuropore entered a collaboration with UCB in 2015 with a potential payment of up to $460 million. The companies have moved their compound into clinical testing.
Receiving a grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation brings more than financial capital:
- Non-dilutive funding – MJFF grants vary according to the needs of the project.
- Scientific expertise and collaboration – Grantees gain access to Foundation scientific staff and our rich network of researchers who can advise on your study. Through virtual and in-person meetings, grantees also liaise with peers working in a similar area to troubleshoot and problem-solve.
- Study tools and support – Through our research tools, data and biospecimens, and recruitment and retention materials, MJFF offers a cadre of non-financial tools to advance your projects. These are not limited to use by grantees only.
- Presentation opportunities – The Foundation’s annual Parkinson’s Disease Therapeutics Conference attracts 300 leading researchers and business professionals and showcases the most innovative research in the MJFF portfolio.
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