On June 13, The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) convened a summit welcoming representatives from 20 companies, a number of academic centers and research organizations, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to discuss how to meet the current challenges and opportunities in advancing therapies that may slow or stop Parkinson's disease. Attendees at the meeting in New York City shared their perspectives on:
- How to find and screen people at risk for Parkinson's to intervene before the onset of motor symptoms
- Development of biological tests to help monitor disease and therapeutic impact
- Role of wearable devices in gathering data and the challenges in integrating data from these tools
In her opening remarks, MJFF Deputy CEO Sohini Chowdhury acknowledged the progress in Parkinson's drug development that was the impetus for the summit. She described the role the Foundation plays in advancing research and how the summit would shape our strategy as we continue driving toward cures:
Since I began with the Foundation more than 10 years ago, the Parkinson's therapeutic landscape has changed dramatically. More companies are engaging in Parkinson's research and development, and we are seeing dramatic advancements in drug development, especially with regard to disease modification.
The momentum is palpable. We feel it and so do patients, who obviously want to access new therapies that can significantly impact their quality of life.
While we should take a moment to celebrate the momentum we have created, we cannot rest. There is still a lot to be done.
Here at The Michael J. Fox Foundation, we are realistic in acknowledging the challenges that still exist for drug developers to get disease-modifying therapies approved by regulators and into the hands of patients. And that is why we are here today.
We have two aims for this summit. First, we want to have a forum where we can frankly discuss how we can address challenges in therapeutic clinical development. The second is to continue to hear from all of you on what you need so we can ensure that MJFF resources are directed appropriately.
Sohini Chowdhury went on to explain how MJFF had already helped advance the field by uniting competitors and experts, funding research tools, and pioneering investments in large-scale Parkinson's research cohorts. The Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) is building the most robust dataset and biosample library in Parkinson's research. And the complementary online study, Fox Insight, is gathering patient-reported outcomes and genetic information from a broad, representative population. These efforts are already helping researchers design better clinical trials, and we intend to build on this established infrastructure to identify how to conduct prevention trials.
The summit participants outlined ways MJFF investments could further research even more, some of which we were already planning. As always, our goal is to ensure everyone working to develop Parkinson's therapies has the tools and resources necessary for success.
Interested in how you can be a part of the latest clinical trials of therapies to slow or stop Parkinson's disease? Browse studies on MJFF's clinical trial matching tool Fox Trial Finder to connect with study teams in your area.