“Dyskinesia is absolutely the worst part of having Parkinson’s for me,” said Michael Gibson, 39, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was 18. “I’m naturally a very sociable, outgoing person, but it’s a huge knock to my self-confidence when I’m out with my kids and people stare or make awful remarks.”
Dyskinesia is involuntary, irregular movement that can occur as a complication of long-term levodopa use combined with a longer course of Parkinson's disease (PD).
The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) funds research that aims to meet patients’ unmet needs, such as bothersome complications like dyskinesia. In collaboration with Parkinson’s UK, we are funding a Phase II clinical trial of a new drug called NLX-112 — which has shown potential in the lab for reducing dyskinesia — with biopharma company Neurolixis.
With support from the Foundation and Parkinson’s UK, Neurolixis was able to develop the drug and complete pre-clinical testing. This new trial, taking place in Sweden, will test this drug in people with Parkinson’s for the first time. NLX-112 works by targeting brain cells that produce serotonin, a hormone that stabilizes our mood. These cells are believed to contribute to the development of dyskinesia by converting levodopa into dopamine — a chemical that coordinates movement — and releasing it inconsistently. NLX-112 balances the amount of dopamine these serotonin cells release.
“Levodopa-induced dyskinesia can significantly impact quality of life for people with Parkinson’s,” said Todd Sherer, PhD, MJFF CEO. “This collaboration with Parkinson’s UK is about combining our resources to advance this promising therapeutic approach from Neurolixis as quickly as we can to benefit the patients and families worldwide who navigate dyskinesia in their daily lives.”
MJFF created and validated a tool — the Unified Dyskinesia Rating Scale — to measure the impact of dyskinesia therapies in trials. It was critical in the testing of Gocovri, which is currently the only approved treatment to manage dyskinesia.
The trial in Sweden will determine whether NLX-112 is safe and well-tolerated by people with Parkinson’s who experience dyskinesia. More research opens the door to new potential treatment options for people with PD.