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The Michael J. Fox Foundation Announces its 2011 Drug Repositioning Grants

NEW YORK, NY--The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) today announced six awards totaling $2.4 million in funding under its Repositioning Drugs for PD 2011 Request For Applications (RFA). While the Foundation has supported repositioning projects before, this was the Foundation’s first repositioning specific RFA.

“We are committed to bringing breakthrough Parkinson’s treatments to market as quickly as possible,” said Kuldip Dave, PhD, associate director of research programs at MJFF. “The development of new drugs is expensive and time-consuming. By identifying therapies that are already clinically available, we can potentially mitigate the time and costs involved in finding drugs that could help people living with Parkinson’s.”

Repositioning (also known as repurposing or reprofiling) refers to the process of testing a drug that is either already FDA-approved or that has been proven safe in a clinical trial for a certain indication, to determine whether the drug might be efficacious in the treatment of another therapeutic area. Studies can be preclinical or clinical in nature.

The Foundation is funding five preclinical awards, including:


Repositioning BCG Vaccination as an Immunostimulant for Slowing the Progression of PD

  • Daniel Kaufman, PhD, and William Melega, PhD (UCLA) are working with this common tuberculosis vaccine to test potential neuroprotection in the brain.

Duloxetine Hydrochloride as a Novel Neuroprotective Treatment for Parkinson's Disease

  • Ole Isacson, MD, PhD and Penelope J. Hallett, PhD (McLean Hospital) are seeking to determine if the antidepressant duloxetine, also known as Cymbalta, can be used as neuroprotective therapy.

DPP-4 Inhibitors for the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease

  • Barry Hoffer, MD, PhD, Yun Wang, MD, PhD, and Nigel Greig, PhD (NIDA/ NIA) are investigating how an agent used to treat type 2 diabetes might contribute to the elevation of hormones that have been shown to have neuroprotective effects in PD preclinical models.

Evaluation of a Specific DAT Inhibitor in Pre-clinical Models of Parkinson’s Disease

  • John Ciallella, PhD and John Gruner, PhD (Melior Discovery) are testing a compound used to treat ADHD to determine whether it could enhance dopamine production as a form of symptomatic therapy.

Fasudil as a Novel Therapeutic for the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease

  • Jeff MacKeigan, PhD, and Caryl Sortwell, PhD (Van Andel Research Institute/ Michigan State) are targeting the enhancement of neuronal regeneration in the brain with Fasudil, a drug used to treat cerebral vasospasm, or spasm of the blood vessels.

One clinical grant is also being funded:

NO004 Films for Sialorrhea in PD Patients

  • Elkan Gamzu, PhD (NeuroHealing Pharmaceuticals) is searching to advance the clinical development of a drug used to treat uncontrolled salivation or drooling, called sialorrhea, a common symptom in people with Parkinson’s.

One additional clinical grant is expected to complete contracting by fall 2011.


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