NEW YORK, Nov. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) have joined efforts to create a consortium for testing candidate drugs with potential neuroprotective benefits. The drugs will be tested on a variety of rodent models spanning several neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease, ALS, and Huntington's disease. NINDS initiated the program with a $1 million dollar commitment to create a consortium to identify new treatments for neurodegenerative disorders through the testing of promising drugs identified or evaluated in ongoing peer-reviewed projects. Seeing an opportunity to increase focus on Parkinson's disease as well as open the applicant pool to non-NINDS grantees, MJFF joined the NINDS effort. Approximately 40 candidate neuroprotective drugs will be tested in the consortium through 15 NINDS-funded supplement grants and five MJFF-funded awards. In all, MJFF pledged $263,000 to this program, and more than doubled the number of drugs tested in PD models, for a total of approximately 17 drugs. "We are extremely pleased that the Foundation was able to give added value to the drug screening program by widening the possible candidate pool and increasing program focus on Parkinson's disease," said Debi Brooks, MJFF executive director. "One of our strategies is to find existing opportunities where we can leverage research dollars. NINDS had the program in place and together we recognized a chance for the Foundation to increase focus on Parkinson's." While MJFF's participation in the program has brought increased focus on Parkinson's disease, the program as a whole takes a much broader look at neurodegenerative diseases by calling for collaboration among scientists and creating a new forum for information sharing. In total, five neurodegenerative diseases will be represented in the program. "Because this program is under the umbrella of neuroprotection rather than specifically PD, we are pulling together scientists from more distant fields who do not always work closely together," said Jill Heemskerk, program director for technology development at NINDS. "This facilitates information sharing and helps move promising drugs from one disease area to another, thus benefiting all groups." The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research is pleased to award grants to the following researchers: M. Flint Beal, MD Weill Medical College of Cornell University New York, NY Project Title: "Testing of Candidate Drug Treatments for Parkinson's Disease in Rodent Models" Jay Schneider, PhD Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia, PA Project Title: "Potential Neuroprotective/Neurorestorative Agents for Parkinson's Disease" Moussa Youdim, PhD Technion R&D Foundation - Israel Institute of Technology Haifa, Israel Project Title: "Ironing Iron Out in Parkinsonian Rodents Models with Brain Permeable Iron Chelators" Gail, D Zeevalk, PhD UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Piscataway, NJ Project Title: "The Ethyl Ester of Glutathione as a Neuroprotectant Versus Chronic Rotenone" Thomas M. Jeitner, PhD and Gloria Meredith Medical College of Wisconsin Finch University of Health Sciences Milwaukee, WI North Chicago, IL Project Title: "Cystamine: A Therapeutic Drug for Parkinson's Disease" The drug-screening program is one element of the Foundation's aggressive research agenda aimed at finding a cure for Parkinson's disease. To date, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research has funded nearly $30 million in research, either directly or through partnerships. MJFF anticipates funding approximately $20 million more by early 2004. For more information on The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, visit www.michaeljfox.org.
SOURCE The Michael J. Fox Foundation