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Michael J. Fox Foundation Seeks Novel Drug Development Strategies for 2007 Target Validation Initiative

NEWYORK, NY — The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research today announced the launch of its 2007 Target Validation effort. This annual program is designed to validate the therapeutic potential of various scientific discoveries and push them one step closer to the clinic. The 2007 program will provide up to $2 million in funding to validate therapeutic targets for Parkinson’s disease.

An increasing number of promising cellular pathways and therapeutic targets have been identified, but translation of scientific discoveries into actual therapeutic interventions requires narrowly focused applied validation studies. Work that will develop strategies to manipulate a biological target or pathway, or test the beneficial effects of manipulating that target in relevant PD model systems, is required to move research along.  These fundamental and often underfunded steps of the therapeutics development process are the focal point of Target Validation.

“The Foundation’s strong focus is on providing funding for translational research that can drive PD drug development and the delivery of better treatments to patients that much faster,” said Deborah W. Brooks, president and CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. “Target Validation is key to these efforts because of its potential to accelerate the pace of drug discovery and to encourage industry investment in Parkinson’s.”

The 2007 program, which follows the model of the annual Target Validation initiative, seeks investigator-initiated applications to validate therapeutic targets to address aspects of Parkinson’s disease including:

  • neuroprotective strategies focused on slowing or preventing the process of neuronal death;
  • neuroregenerative/neurotrophic strategies to restore or slow the deterioration in neuronal function;
  • targets or pathways to improve the treatment of motor symptoms of PD;
  • targets or pathways to treat non-motor symptoms of PD, including cognitive dysfunction, autonomic dysfunction, sleep disorders, or depression;
  • targets or pathways to alleviate complications of PD treatment including dyskinesias.

In mid-October, the Foundation will announce a new initiative, Novel Approaches to Drug Discovery for Parkinson’s Disease, which complements the Target Validation program. Similar to Target Validation, this program provides critical resources for underfunded stages of the drug development process. It also reflects the Foundation’s emphasis on bridging early discovery work and late-stage translational research to “de-risk” industry investment in new PD therapeutics. While Target Validation provides funding to validate promising potential therapeutic approaches for PD, Novel Approaches picks up where Target Validation leaves off and focuses exclusively on targets whose potential benefit has already been demonstrated in at least one animal model of Parkinson’s. Information about Novel Approaches will be available on the Foundation’s Web site ( beginning October 11, 2006.

Target Validation pre-proposals are due by December 13, 2006, and funding is anticipated by spring 2007. Proposals not deemed appropriate for Target Validation may, at the Foundation’s discretion, be considered for Novel Approaches if they are within the scope and intent of that program. For more information, visit the Foundation’s Web site.

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