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Michael J. Fox Foundation Awards Up to $3 Million to Industry Teams to Jumpstart Promising PD Drug Development
Date:1/31/2008

sion-makers and encourage them to allocate resources to Parkinson's projects. To date, of the approximately $21 million the Foundation has committed in total funding to industry, almost a third (nearly $8 million) has gone to 14 projects under TDI. The current round of awardees will focus on developing and optimizing new treatments targeting alpha-synuclein toxicity; chronic inflammation; trophic factors; and mitochondrial dysfunction.

Christine Bulawa, PhD, of FoldRx Pharmaceuticals Inc., will work to develop a disease-modifying drug that could block the toxicity associated with clumping of the protein alpha-synuclein, a hallmark of PD pathology. Dr. Bulawa's team has identified chemical compounds that protect neurons from alpha-synuclein toxicity and will now work with the compounds in a rodent model of Parkinson's. The researchers hope to identify promising small molecules that, with further optimization, can be developed into drug candidates to be tested in PD patients in clinical trials.

Chronic inflammation plays a role in the death of the dopamine-producing neurons that are lost in Parkinson's disease. Patrick Flood, PhD, of TheraLogics, Inc., and his group will test compounds that specifically target the inflammatory pathway in a PD animal model to determine whether certain drugs can protect against this neuronal loss. The team will assess whether blocking inflammation reverses destruction of dopamine-producing neurons, and actually leads to regeneration of these cells within the brain, to determine the most effective dose and timing for therapeutic intervention.

The blood-brain barrier is a thin layer of tightly packed cells separating the central nervous system from the body's bloodstream. This layer is crucial to protecting the brain from foreign substances, but also poses a major challenge in delivering potentially therapeutic treatments via orally administered drugs. Antonia Orsi, PhD, and her team from Phytopharm have develop
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SOURCE Michael J. Fox Foundation
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