The Michael J. Fox Foundation and Imago Pharmaceuticals Collaborate to Advance Parkinson’s Research

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by Patricia Silva PhD |

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It was recently announced that The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) for Parkinson’s Research acquired from Imago Pharmaceuticals several research tools based on the parkin protein in order to advance the biological study of the disease and the development of therapeutic drugs.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement. The disease develops gradually and patients usually experience the first symptoms around the age of 60 or older. As the disease progresses, symptoms worsen from a barely noticeable tremor in the hands to serious difficulties in speaking, locomotion, coordination and balance. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, and treatments aim at improving the disease symptoms and the patient’s quality of life. It is estimated that four to six million people worldwide suffer from the disease, and as people live longer, the number of individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s is expected to increase.

Deletions and mutations in a gene called parkin (PARK2) have been associated with young-onset Parkinson’s disease. The resulting dysfunctional parkin protein has caught the attention of researchers as a therapeutic target to slow or halt disease progression. MJFF is funding projects based on the study of parkin’s biology and the development of parkin replacement and activation therapies. The Foundation has now bought hundreds of parkin research tools (such as plasmids, cells lines and compounds) and is defining where to invest in terms of further testing and reproduction.

“We’re immensely grateful to Imago for offering this valuable library of varied research tools,” said in the news release Dr. Marco Baptista, the leader of the MJFF Parkin Program. “The availability of these resources will significantly speed parkin research and the field’s ability to test new concepts toward a therapy that may have clinical relevance for millions living with Parkinson’s disease.”

The tools that ultimately will be considered the most valuable will be included in the MJFF Research Tools Catalog, a listing of resources managed by the Foundation. MJFF goal is to make these resources easily and affordably available to the research community to advance Parkinson’s discovery and drug development.

“We believe that there is substantial value in the Parkin Program assets and that The Michael J. Fox Foundation is uniquely positioned to maximize this value,” said the Co-Founder and CSO of Imago Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Irene Griswold-Prenner. “The Parkin Program was developed at Elan, where significant time and resources were invested in this program. With MJFF making the parkin reagents broadly available to the Parkinson’s disease research community, these reagents can be maximally utilized and increase the probability of benefiting Parkinson’s patients.”

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