Michael J. Fox Foundation Commits up to $5.75 Million in Funding for 2010 Critical Challenges in Parkinson's Disease

NEW YORK, March 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research announced up to $5.75 million in total funding available under its three 2010 Critical Challenges. Each year the Foundation tailors specific Challenges to advance one or more of its key research priorities in PD drug development: forging new strategies to define Parkinson's disease and its progression, alter disease course, reduce symptoms and complications of treatment to increase quality of life, and develop pre-clinical and clinical research tools to broadly accelerate Parkinson's research. Including the Critical Challenges announced today, the Foundation expects about $25 million of its total 2010 funding to drive research focused on these priorities.

Two of the 2010 Challenges aim to streamline field-wide efforts focused on alpha-synuclein and LRRK2, respectively, two leading genetic targets for PD drug development. The third Challenge will drive scientific collaborations that can speed progress by taking advantage of the unique repository of well-characterized biological samples collected through the Brain and Body Donation Program at the Arizona Parkinson's Disease Consortium.

  • Alpha-synuclein Therapeutics seeks pre-clinical projects to accelerate therapeutic development of the PD-implicated gene alpha-synuclein, which many researchers believe holds potential to lead to a new treatment that could slow or stop the progression of Parkinson's disease (something no currently available treatment has been proven to do). Applicants should outline critical next steps to develop and optimize treatment strategies that can change levels of alpha-synuclein production in the brain, reduce alpha-synuclein toxicity, or break up Lewy bodies (clumps formed by the alpha-synuclein protein that are the pathological hallmark of PD). The Foundation will prioritize funding for applications that describe a clear path to the clinic.
  • Pharmacodynamic Biomarkers of LRRK2 Activity will drive efforts to develop drug-activity biomarkers that can improve outcomes from future clinical trials of treatments targeting the PD-implicated gene LRRK2. The Foundation will give preference to proposals seeking to verify and validate promising, pre-defined candidate LRRK2-associated biomarkers. This Challenge is part of MJFF's integrated strategy to drive LRRK2 therapeutic development forward at every stage of the drug development pipeline in order to lay the groundwork for clear outcomes from future clinical trials testing LRRK2-associated drug candidates. This program has been made possible through the generous support of The Brin Wojcicki Foundation.
  • Novel Hypotheses in Parkinson's Disease: Investigating Clinical Data and Human Tissue offers scientists around the globe the opportunity to collaborate with the Arizona Parkinson's Disease Consortium (APDC). Funded investigators should propose drug development projects that can benefit from access to APDC's exceptional bank of well-characterized biologics, postmortem tissue and associated clinical data. Applicants should outline their plans for experiments that will take maximum advantage of these resources to speed therapeutic development.

Critical Challenges complement the Foundation's annually recurring Pipeline Programs, which provide opportunities for projects at various stages of development, ensuring that new ideas continue flowing into Parkinson's research. Last September, MJFF announced $12 million in 2010 Pipeline Program funding.

Abbreviated timeline information on the 2010 Critical Challenges follows. Full details are available at www.michaeljfox.org/research.

Alpha-synuclein Therapeutics

Total available funding: $3 million

Deadline: 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Funding Anticipated: November 2010

Pharmacodynamic Biomarkers of LRRK2 Activity

Total available funding: $2 million

Deadline: 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Funding Anticipated: November 2010

Novel Hypotheses in PD: Investigating Clinical Data and Human Tissue

Total available funding: $750,000

Deadline: 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Funding Anticipated: November 2010

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to ensuring the development of better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for Parkinson's disease through an aggressively funded research agenda. MJFF has funded over $175 million in research to date. 

SOURCE The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research




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