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Michael J. Fox Foundation Launches Drug Discovery and Development Initiative

NEWYORK, NY — The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) today announced its PD Drug Discovery and Development effort designed to validate the therapeutic potential of scientific discoveries and push them one step closer to the clinic. The 2006 program will provide up to $1.5 million in funding to validate therapeutic targets for Parkinson’s disease.

New advances in research, technology and the study of genomics have identified an increasing number of promising cellular pathways and therapeutic targets where therapeutic intervention could benefit PD patients. However, translation of scientific discoveries into therapeutic interventions requires additional applied work in the form of validation studies. These studies determine whether altering the biological function of a target or pathway provides a beneficial effect in a relevant PD model. This is an essential step before development of a therapeutic strategy can proceed and is one to which neither academia nor industry has consistently devoted the necessary resources.

“The Michael J. Fox Foundation is striving to accelerate the pace of drug discovery by bridging the gap that currently exists in moving targets from identified to validated,” said Deborah W. Brooks, MJFF president and CEO. She added that the program, which the Foundation expects to launch annually, “is part of a larger commitment to draw increased industry attention to Parkinson’s disease and ‘de-risk’ the investment of R&D dollars for new PD therapies.”

The program, which expands the 2005 Target Validation initiative, seeks investigator-initiated applications to validate therapeutic targets to address aspects of Parkinson’s disease including:

  • both motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including cognitive dysfunction, autonomic dysfunction, sleep disorders, or depression;
  • neuroprotective strategies to  slow or prevent neuronal death;
  • neuroregenerative strategies to replace or restore lost neurons; and
  • complications associated with treatment, including dyskinesias.

Applications may focus on developing strategies to alter a biological target or pathway relevant to PD, testing the beneficial effects of active compounds or approaches in relevant PD model systems, or both. Since one laboratory group may not possess the expertise in all steps in the validation process, collaborations are strongly encouraged. Additionally, in keeping with the Foundation’s strong emphasis on accountability, the program requires the designation of time-dependent milestones, and 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 3, 2006.  Funding is anticipated by spring 2006. For more information, scientists should visit the Foundation’s Web site,

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