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Michael J. Fox Foundation Awards $2.1 Million to Drive Six Industry Teams' Pre-Clinical Development of Neuroprotective Parkinson's Therapies
Date:1/19/2010

NEW YORK, Jan. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As part of its mission to speed development of transformative treatments for Parkinson's disease, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research announced a total of $2.1 million in awards to six biotech and pharmaceutical companies under its industry-exclusive Therapeutics Development Initiative (TDI). The funding will drive pre-clinical projects pushing forward investigations of promising neuroprotective therapeutic targets for Parkinson's.

Three teams will focus on strategies to address inflammation and oxidative stress, while two will investigate ways to target the Parkinson's-implicated protein alpha-synuclein (including FoldRx Pharmaceuticals' continuing investigation of small-molecule drug candidates to inhibit alpha-synuclein toxicity, funded by MJFF since 2007). The remaining team will investigate HDACs, a family of enzymes that have been shown to enhance expression of potential protective factors in preclinical models of PD and may also regulate clearance of toxic proteins.

While MJFF welcomes applications from industry researchers under all of its programs, TDI -- first launched in 2006 -- is the Foundation's only industry-exclusive funding stream. It is a key element of MJFF's strategy to 'de-risk' preclinical PD research for biotech and pharmaceutical companies, thus expanding industry investment in Parkinson's therapeutic development and helping push the most promising research to the next stage.

Projects selected for funding are listed below. Detailed information, including grant abstracts and researcher bios, is available in the Searchable Database of Funded Grants at www.michaeljfox.org/research. As with all MJFF grants, full funding is contingent on the achievement of predetermined, specific milestones and on researchers' agreement to make the results of their work available to the Parkinson's research community.

Projects Focused on Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Design of Neuroprotective Drugs to Reduce Oxidative Damage and Alpha-Synuclein Toxicity in Parkinson's Disease

Stig Hansen, Ph.D., Carmot Therapeutics, Inc.

Targeting TLR2 as a Novel Therapy for Parkinson's Disease

Andrew Parker, Ph.D., Opsona Therapeutics LTD

An Innovative Drug for Disease-Modifying Treatment of Parkinson's Disease

Philipp Wabnitz, Ph.D., InterMed Discovery GmbH

Projects Focused on Alpha-Synuclein

Determination and Validation of the Molecular Target of J3, a Neuroprotective Lead Compound, for Its Optimization as a Disease-modifying Candidate for Parkinson's Disease

Christine Bulawa, Ph.D., FoldRx Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Developing Autophagy Enhancers as Disease-modifying Therapeutics for Parkinson's Disease

John Dunlop, Ph.D., Pfizer Global Research and Development

HDACs

Potential Efficacy of a Novel, Orally Bioavailable, CNS-penetrant HDAC Inhibitor in Pre-clinical Models of Parkinson's Disease

Holger Patzke, Ph.D., Envivo Pharmaceuticals

TDI is launched bi-annually with applications accepted each spring and fall. It has been enthusiastically received by industry researchers. To date the Foundation has awarded $18.6 million total for 39 industry-led projects under the initiative.

About The Michael J. Fox Foundation

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson's disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson's today. To date, the Foundation has funded almost $170 million in research. For more information on TDI and the Foundation's industry strategy, please visit www.michaeljfox.org/industry.

SOURCE Michael J. Fox Foundation

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