Because of their ability to protect and nourish neurons in the brain, neurotrophic factors have enticed researchers trying to find a way to battle Parkinson's disease. But in clinical trials researchers have been frustrated in their attempts to deliver the large proteins into the brain.
In response, the Michael J. Fox Foundation will help bankroll two research programs to test new delivery mechanisms. The foundation is backing work undertaken by Ceregene, which will conduct a Phase II clinical study evaluating CERE-120, a gene therapy product which aims to deliver the neurotrophic factor neurturin to dying dopamine neurons in the brain. Biovail and MedGenesis, meanwhile, are working on an effective method of delivering GDNF (glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor) to targeted areas of the brain, addressing a key limitation of previous studies.
"MJFF continues to believe in the potential of neurotrophic factors as transformative therapies for people living with Parkinson's disease," said Todd Sherer, Ph.D., vice president of research programs at MJFF. "The Foundation's new approach to this area of research is to develop better methods to deliver trophic factors to the appropriate brain regions at the appropriate doses. And that's exactly the focus of the two projects that MJFF is supporting."
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