NEW YORK, NY — The Michael J. Fox Foundation announced that monoclonal LRRK2 antibodies, for use in understanding LRRK2 function and developing LRRK2-based therapeutics, will be available to Parkinson’s researchers in academic/nonprofit and industry labs. In mid-April, the antibodies will be available free of charge to the entire PD research community for experimental use. This will allow researchers to undertake large-scale testing of the antibodies and provide feedback on their performance directly to MJFF. Once the best-performing antibodies have been identified, the Foundation will determine a practical distribution mechanism to make them available to the research community going forward.
“Our mission is to accelerate next-generation Parkinson’s therapies on their path toward the clinic, and it is impossible to overstate access to high-quality, reliable experimental tools as a critical element of this push,” said Katie Hood, CEO. “One of our top priorities is to mobilize financial and intellectual leadership around the creation of research tools and get them into scientists’ hands to keep promising therapeutic strategies moving forward full-speed ahead.”
The Foundation’s ongoing investment in critical research tools is made possible through the generous support of The Brin Wojcicki Foundation.
About LRRK2 and LRRK2 Antibodies
LRRK2 is a Parkinson’s-implicated gene discovered in 2004 that is now believed to be the single greatest genetic contributor to the disease. While it is the focus of intensive research in the Parkinson’s field, a major roadblock to the successful development of LRRK2-based therapies is the lack of high-quality LRRK2 antibodies. Antibodies are used by researchers to identify where proteins can be found in the body, how they behave in cells, and how to manipulate their activity. Despite numerous attempts by individual researchers, high-quality LRRK2 antibodies are rare and often difficult for labs to obtain.
In 2009 MJFF convened a LRRK2 Antibodies Working Group composed of academic and industry researchers with specific expertise in LRRK2. At the recommendation of this group, MJFF engaged a company specializing in antibody development, Epitomics, Inc., to generate several highly sensitive and specific LRRK2 antibodies in large amounts.
The LRRK2 antibodies project is part of MJFF’s broadly integrated strategy to drive LRRK2 research at every stage of drug development and accelerate the path of LRRK2-based drugs to the clinic.
How to Obtain Antibodies
For detailed scientific information on the LRRK2 antibodies and information on how to obtain them, researchers should visit PD Online Research (pdonlineresearch.org) or the new Research Tools page located on the Foundation’s Web site (michaeljfox.org/research).
Next Focus Area under MJFF’s Research Tools Effort: Pre-clinical Models
In addition to the antibodies announced today, the Foundation is working to develop and create distribution channels for new pre-clinical models of Parkinson’s that better mimic the human condition. Multiple strains of new models are expected to come online for distribution over the course of 2010. There is an urgent need for such models, particularly for the development of treatments that could slow or stop the progression of PD (something no current treatment has been conclusively proven to do). The Michael J. Fox Foundation has been a field leader in the development of PD models for several years, with investments totaling approximately $13 million to date.