NEWYORK,NY— The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) today announced the launch of a new $2 million initiative to drive the creation of progressive, predictive mammalian models of Parkinson’s disease. Such models are crucial research tools for testing neuroprotective and neuroregenerative therapeutic strategies in clinical studies.
While existing models can be useful for studying the pathology of specific mechanisms and pathways implicated in Parkinson’s, it is generally recognized that no validated model in standard use currently mimics the disorder’s gradual progression in humans.
“A lack of a progressive model has historically made it difficult to identify promising approaches to achieve the ‘holy grail’ of Parkinson’s therapy — delaying, halting or reversing disease progression,” said Deborah W. Brooks, president and CEO. “With this initiative, we hope to focus attention and stimulate creative solutions to addressing this long-standing need.”
Researchers are invited to submit proposals that seek to create novel models or that propose substantial improvement of existing mammalian models. Ideal models will reproduce as many features of Parkinson’s disease as possible, including progressive nigrostriatal dopaminergic degeneration, progressive striatal dopaminergic dysfunction and evidence for relevant protein aggregation. Since the ultimate goal of such a model is to promote the development of neuroprotective therapeutic strategies, the proposed model should have biological relevance to known mechanisms of the disease, and be easy to use and able to be reproduced in a standardized fashion.
Because one laboratory group may not possess the expertise in all steps required to develop and evaluate progressive mammalian models of Parkinson’s, collaborations are strongly encouraged. Additionally, in keeping with the Foundation’s emphasis on accountability, the program requires the designation of time-dependent milestones. If the project is selected, continued funding throughout the course of the project will be dependent upon successful completion of these milestones.
Letters of intent are due by January 10, 2006. Funding is anticipated by June 2006. For more information, scientists should visit the Foundation’s Web site, www.michaeljfox.org.