NEWYORK, NY — The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research awarded approximately $1.9 million total to six teams working to develop neuroimaging technologies that would allow scientists to non-invasively visualize the clumping of the alpha-synuclein protein in the living human brain. Such technologies would dramatically accelerate research into the cause, progression and treatment of PD. Investigators could more accurately identify individuals with PD as well as better characterize disease pathology and relate it to clinical measures of onset and progression. There is also growing interest in therapeutics that directly target alpha-synuclein; hence, a non-invasive imaging tool would be a useful therapeutic response marker for drug makers wishing to test biological impact of potentially disease-modifying drugs. Such tools would have a huge impact on clinical trial designs, allowing for more accurate patient selection and clearer trial outcome measures.
This program was funded with a lead gift from The Edmond J. Safra Foundation in memory of its founder, Mr. Edmond J. Safra. The Edmond J. Safra Foundation has been one of the most steadfast supporters of The Michael J. Fox Foundation since its inception.
Funded projects are listed below. Detailed information, including grant abstracts and researcher bios, is available on the Foundation’s Searchable Database of Funded Grants.
As with all MJFF grants, full funding is dependent on the achievement of predetermined, specific milestones and on researchers’ agreement to make the results of their work available to the Parkinson’s research community.
Development and Screening of Contrast Agents for In Vivo Imaging of PD
Brian Bacskai, PhD, and Pamela McLean, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard Medical School), Boston, Massachusetts
Utility of the Amyloid Ligand [18F] FDDNP in Human PET Imaging in Parkinson’s Disease
Yvette Bordelon, MD, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
18F-labeled Alpha-Synuclein Ligands for PET Imaging of Lewy Bodies
Franz Hefti, PhD, Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, Inc., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Alan Snow, PhD, ProteoTech, Inc., Seattle, Washington
Generation of Alpha-Synuclein Conformation-specific Aptamers for In Vivo Bioimaging of Alpha-Synuclein Pathology
Poul Henning Jensen, MD, PhD, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark
A Strategy to Develop a Radiotracer Targeting Alpha-Synuclein
Kenneth Marek, MD, Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders, New Haven, Connecticut, and Omar El-Agnaf, PhD, United Arab Emirates University
In Vivo SPECT Imaging of Synuclein Aggregation with Morphology-specific Antibody-based Ligands
Michael Sierks, PhD, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona