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Michael J. Fox Foundation Awards $3 Million to Push Eight Industry Parkinson's Drug Development Projects Toward Commercialization

NEW YORK, NY — The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research has awarded research teams at eight biotech and pharmaceutical companies a total of $3 million for pre-clinical Parkinson’s drug development projects. Funded investigations aim to push forward approaches that could slow or stop progression of the disease, alleviate symptoms or refine existing therapies.

MJFF welcomes industry researchers to apply for funding under any of its programs and has awarded approximately $41 million to biotech and pharmaceutical companies to date. To specifically encourage industry proposals, the Foundation in 2006 began designating $5 million in annual funding exclusively for industry researchers through its Therapeutics Development Initiative (TDI). TDI is one element of MJFF’s strategy to ‘de-risk’ PD drug targets at the pre-clinical research stage, expanding industry investment in Parkinson’s therapeutic development and helping push the most promising targets toward clinical testing faster.

Projects selected for funding are listed below. Two projects provide supplemental funding to allow work on promising targets whose development was previously funded by MJFF. 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 contingent 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.

Modifying Disease

Assessment of the Neurorestorative Potential of Enhanced Neurotrophic Support via Positive Glutamatergic Modulation in the MPTP Pre-clinical Model of PD

Steven Johnson, PhD, Cortex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Irvine, California; Jonathan Brotchie, PhD, Atuka Ltd., Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Novel, Selective and Potent Brain-penetrant Small-molecule Inhibitors of Cytosolic Hsp90

Sridhar Prasad, PhD, CalAsia Pharmaceuticals, Inc., San Diego, California

Valina Dawson, PhD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland

Sailen Barik, PhD, University of South Alabama, College of Medicine, Mobile, Alabama

Nicholas Cosford, PhD, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, California

Development of a Zinc Finger Protein Therapeutic for the Potential Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease (Supplemental Award)

Steve Zhang, PhD, Sangamo BioSciences Inc., Richmond, California

Investigation of PDE10a Inhibitors for Parkinson’s Disease

Bart Ellenbroek, PhD, and Thomas Hesterkamp, PhD, Evotec, Hamburg, Germany; David Hallett, PhD, MSc, MA, BA, Evotec, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

Targeting Alpha-synuclein-Lipid Interactions in Pre-clinical Parkinson’s Disease Models

Vidhya Gopalakrishnan, PhD, Neuraltus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Palo Alto, California; Amy Manning-Bog, PhD, SRI International, Menlo Park, California

Addressing Symptoms and Complications of Treatment/Improving Current Therapies

Flibanserin in Levodopa-induced Dyskinesia: MPTP-lesioned Pre-clinical Model

Jurgen Beck, MD, Monitoring Force Group GmbH, Berlin, Germany

Metal Complexation with Levodopa to Improve Continuous Dopaminergic Stimulation

Thomas Piccariello, PhD, John Price, PhD, and Robert Oberlender, PhD, Synthonics, Inc., Blacksburg, Virginia

Optimization of Selective mu Opioid Receptor Antagonists for the Treatment of Levodopa-induced Dyskinesias in Parkinson’s Disease (Supplemental Award)

Patrick Little, PhD, Adolor Corporation, Exelon, Pennsylvania

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