ALPHA-SYNUCLEIN IMAGING PRIZE
The Michael J. Fox Foundation is sponsoring a $2 million prize to the first team to develop a viable selective alpha-synuclein PET tracer and agree to make that tracer available broadly to academic and industry researchers.
The ability to image alpha-synuclein deposition in the brain would be a game-changing achievement for the Parkinson's disease (PD) field. The accumulation of aggregated alpha-synuclein is a pathological hallmark of PD and a priority target for drug development given its hypothesized contribution to neurodegeneration. In vivo imaging of alpha-synuclein pathology could be useful as a biomarker of the presence of disease and disease progression and as a pharmacodynamic tool for drug development. With this prize, the Foundation seeks to attract research teams and accelerate momentum to speed the development of such a tracer.
Contestants: Anyone is eligible for the prize who agrees to all contest rules. Contestants may be MJFF funded or not and can be from either academia or industry.
Contestants must apply for the prize with pre-clinical and clinical data supporting the broad use of their alpha-synuclein radiotracer. Judges may ask for additional data, including but not limited to raw imaging data.
NOTE: All contestants must agree to make the winning radiotracer available for use by The Michael J. Fox Foundation and MJFF awardees (both academic and industry researchers) through a nonexclusive license or other MJFF-approved mechanism.
Criteria for winning: The winning contestant must demonstrate that the radiotracer binds with relatively high selectivity to alpha-synuclein according to pre-specified criteria and must demonstrate proof-of-concept in human subjects, including people with Parkinson's disease and/or another synucleinopathy. See below for more details on submission requirements.
Timeline: There is no deadline for submissions. The $2 million award will be issued to the first contestant who submits compelling evidence of a viable selective tracer and agrees to its widespread use. If no award is given by mid-2018, The Michael J. Fox Foundation will evaluate the state of the field and utility of such a prize.
- Radiosynthesis method enabling feasible radiolabeling with 11C or 18F (or both) at > 20% yield, high specific activity
- Selective binding to alpha-synuclein-rich brain tissue (versus amyloid-beta or tau-rich tissue)
- Proof of concept in alpha-synuclein pre-clinical models (preferred but not required)
- Acceptable biodistribution with adequate brain uptake
- Acceptable metabolite profile
- Demonstrated proof-of-concept evidence of robust in vivo kinetics that enable quantification of alpha-synuclein binding (e.g., by kinetic modeling)
- In vivo binding patterns consistent with the expected distribution of alpha-synuclein pathology per population (e.g., PD, dementia with Lewy bodies, multiple system atrophy)
- Demonstrate selective in vivo binding to alpha-synuclein pathology [little nonspecific uptake, no binding to other pathologies (e.g., amyloid-beta, tau)]
|Hartmuth Kolb, PhD||Head of Neuroscience Biomarkers||Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Johnson & Johnson)|
|Satoshi Minoshima, MD, PhD||Professor and Chairman, Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences||University of Utah|
|Julie Price, PhD||Visiting Professor of Radiology||Massachusetts General Hospital|
|Gil Rabinovici, MD||Associate Professor, Department of Neurology||University of California, San Francisco|
|Henry VanBrocklin, PhD||Professor and Director of Radiopharmaceutical Research, Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging||University of California, San Francisco|
The Michael J. Fox Foundation has long supported the pursuit of an alpha-synuclein PET tracer -- in addition to funding of alpha-synuclein therapies and projects investigating peripheral measures. In 2011, with little activity in the field, MJFF established a public-private Alpha-synuclein Imaging Consortium to begin work toward such a tool. If the MJFF consortium is the first to build compelling evidence of a viable, selective tracer, members of the team excluding MJFF staff will be awarded the prize. The Foundation also funds a number of independent studies toward an alpha-synuclein radiotracer.