NEW YORK, NY — The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research today announced more than $3 million in previously unannounced awards ending the first quarter of 2010. The funded projects complement the Foundation’s annually occurring Pipeline Programs and Critical Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease initiatives, which aim to accelerate PD therapeutic development.
Many of the 17 different projects announced today provide additional funding to advance promising avenues of PD therapeutic development. John Sinclair, PhD, of the University of Cambridge is continuing his work to investigate the possible use of viral RNA to protect the neurons that die in Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Sinclair first received an award in 2008, under the Foundation’s Rapid Response Innovation Awards, to test his theory that a novel piece of viral RNA that keeps cells alive during infection can be used to develop a neuroprotective therapy for PD.
Gregory A. Petsko, DPhil of Brandeis University is investigating shapes that the protein alpha-synuclein may take within cells that can lead to its aggregation into Lewy bodies, a pathological hallmark of Parkinson’s disease. With previous MJFF support Dr. Petsko demonstrated that the inhibition of enzymes that cleave alpha-synuclein in yeast and mammalian cell models prevents cell death from the protein. The project announced today builds further on this research by studying the particular structure that makes alpha-synuclein more or less sensitive to these enzymes in order to determine whether this process can be targeted therapeutically.
Another project, led by Jochen Weishaupt, MD, of the University Hospital Goettingen in Germany is validating findings from earlier studies, funded under MJFF’s Target Validation awards, which demonstrated neuroprotective effects of a growth factor called G-CSF (granulocyte-colony stimulating factor) in pre-clinical models of PD. With additional funding from the Foundation, Dr. Weishaupt is testing an enhanced form of G-CSF called pegfilgrastim in other relevant pre-clinical models, a critical step in advancing G-CSF toward clinical trials.
The following is a complete list of funded projects. Grant abstracts and researcher bios are available on the Foundation’s Web site, www.michaeljfox.org.
Prospective Validation of Risk Markers for the Development of Parkinson’s Syndromes
Daniela Berg, MD, University of Tuebingen
Optimization of Optical Coherence Tomography as a Biomarker for Parkinson’s Disease
Ivan Bodis-Wollner, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
A Generic Repository for Experimental Data
Gully Burns, DPhil, University of Southern California
Neoangiogenesis and Blood-Brain Barrier in L-DOPA-Induced Dyskinesia
Angela Cenci-Nilsson, MD, PhD, Lund University
Comparison and Actions of MANF and GDNF in Rodent Models of Parkinson's Disease
John W. Commissiong, PhD, Amarantus Therapeutics, Inc.
Making PSG Databases Available to Researchers
Karl Kieburtz, MD, MPH, University of Rochester Medical Center
Viral Overexpression of Alpha-Synuclein in Nonhuman Primates
Jeffrey H. Kodower, PhD, Rush University Medical Center
A Rodent Model of Pathological Gambling Associated with Medicated Parkinsonian Patients
T. Celeste Napier, PhD, Rush University Medical Center
Specific Inhibition of Nucleation of Alpha-Synuclein Aggregation as a Therapeutic Strategy
Gregory A. Petsko, DPhil, Brandeis University
Development of Potent Conformation-Specific Compounds Directed to Monomeric Alpha-Synuclein
Joshua Salafsky, PhD, Biodesy LLC
Novel Antibodies for the Delivery of Parkinson’s Therapeutics
Eric V. Shusta, PhD, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Evaluation of a Viral Non-coding RNA as a Neuroprotective and Neurorestorative Therapy in Chronic Models of Parkinson’s Disease
John Sinclair, PhD, University of Cambridge
Validation of VPS41, a Protein Involved in Lysosomal Trafficking, as a Target for Parkinson Disease Therapy
David G. Standaerdt, MD, PhD, University of Alabama at Birmingham
N-Acetylcysteine CSF Levels and Biomarkers in a Mouse Model of PD
Raymond Swanson, MD, University of California, San Francisco
Promoting Widespread Data Sharing Among Scientists
Michael W. Weiner, MD, Northern California Institute for Research and Education
Preclinical Examination of Pharmacodynamics and Neuroprotective Effects of Pegylated G-CSF in MPTP-Treated Non-Human Primates
Jochen Weishaupt, MD, University Hospital Goettingen
Generation of a Dorsal Motor Nucleus Specific Mouse Model of Alpha-Synuclein Overexpression to Study the Etiology of Autonomic Dysfunction in PD
Xiangdong Yang, MD, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles