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MSU investigates drug to halt Parkinson's progression
Date:7/29/2011

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Researchers from Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine, Van Andel Research Institute and the Translational Genomics Research Institute are investigating a drug that has the potential to not only alleviate Parkinson's symptoms but also halt the disease's progression.

A $400,000 grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research part of $2.4 million in funding the foundation awarded this week to institutions nationwide will fund the research project.

Researchers are focusing on the drug Fasudil, which is currently approved in Japan to improve blood flow to the brain in stroke victims and has shown similar positive outcomes in U.S. clinical trials.

In 2009, investigators from the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Arizona and Arizona State University reported that a form of Fasudil had the potential to help improve learning and memory and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Van Andel researchers also recently discovered the potential of the drug in Parkinson's when they were testing various drugs that reduce the toxicity caused by a defective PARK1 gene, a gene implicated in Parkinson's disease.

"The potential of this drug is exciting not only because it could halt disease progression where other treatments only provide symptomatic relief but also because of how quickly it could be made available to patients," said Jeffrey P. MacKeigan, head of Van Andel's Laboratory of Systems Biology and co-investigator on the project with Caryl E. Sortwell of MSU's College of Human Medicine.

"Fasudil has a very favorable safety profile in humans and already is available in Japan as an oral tablet, so we could be seeing clinical trials within two to three years," MacKeigan added.

The development of new drugs is expensive and time-consuming, said Kuldip Dave, associate director of research programs at MJFF.

"In fall 2010, MJFF launched our i
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Contact: Jason Cody
codyja@msu.edu
517-432-0924
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

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