Michael J. Fox Foundation bankrolls AFFiRiS Parkinson's vaccine

The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) will supply $1.5 million for an early clinical study of Affitope PD01, a vaccine being developed by Vienna, Austria-based AFFiRiS for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. The foundation had previously supported preclinical development of the vaccine.

PD01 stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies that bind to and remove the alpha-synuclein protein from the brain. Clumping of the protein is the hallmark of Parkinson's, the foundation noted in a release.

AFFiRiS had already garnered the attention of a Big Pharma company. In 2008 the developer landed a deal with GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) worth up to €420 million for development of an Alzheimer's vaccine called AD02. That program is currently in Phase II trials. Markus Mandler, head of the neurodegeneration team at AFFiRiS, notes that the safety of the company's Parkinson's disease vaccine has already been validated by Phase I trials of AD02.

“Our Foundation’s top priority is the development of a disease-modifying treatment for PD, the most significant unmet need of Parkinson’s patients,” said MJFF CEO Todd Sherer. “PD01 represents the first time a vaccine approach to Parkinson’s disease has been studied in the clinic, and while it is still in the early stages of testing, its potential to stop the progression of the disease itself could lead to a breakthrough in how we treat PD.”

- here's the release from the Michael J. Fox Foundation