The Michael J. Fox Foundation and NIH Collaborate To Fund Drug Screening Consortia

    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

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