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Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research Commits up to $2 million to Visualize Alpha-Synuclein Protein in the Brain
Date:6/3/2008

make only a subjective diagnosis, and the rate of misdiagnosis is high, particularly in the early stages of the illness. Biomarkers are also a critical missing link in the development of treatments that could slow or stop the disease from progressing, since researchers currently have no reliable way to measure disease progression or track treatment effects over time.

Brian Fiske, PhD, associate director of research programs at MJFF, noted that the program would also benefit the field's current intensive efforts to therapeutically target alpha-synuclein. "New approaches in the pipeline seek to target abnormal alpha-synuclein and block its potential PD-causing effects. Having a method to visualize alpha-synuclein clumping in the brain as well as to watch it disappear after treatment would provide drug makers with a critical tool." Some of the very chemicals being developed to target alpha-synuclein could also be modified to become imaging agents as well, added Fiske. "There is the potential for cross-talk between the two parallel efforts."

Ideal applications will focus on developing and testing a sensitive and selective technique to image alpha-synuclein pathology in the living brain. Depending on the technology's stage of development, studies may use relevant animal models of Parkinson's disease or may perform human testing if the technology has met approved safety requirements. Applicants may propose studies exploiting standard or novel imaging modalities. The Foundation recommends that applicants refer to the development of amyloid imaging agents for Alzheimer's disease as a model for the development of alpha-synuclein imaging technologies.

Since successful applications to this program will likely require multiple areas of expertise, such as clinical and neuropathological knowledge of Parkinson's disease, protein and medicinal chemistry, imaging expertise and animal modeling, collaborations will be a major criterion for success. Team members ma
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SOURCE Michael J. Fox Foundation
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