Charles River Laboratories International and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) extended their collaboration to accelerate the discovery of Parkinson’s disease therapies.
The extension covers grants from MJFF to characterize two animal models of Parkinson’s — one where mice do not express alpha-synuclein (knockout), and another where mice express the Parkinson’s-associated alpha-synuclein mutant A53T (knockin). Alpha-synuclein is the major component of Lewy bodies, the characteristic protein clumps of Parkinson’s disease.
Charles River and MJFF also renewed their partnership to continue to develop and test new small molecules that inhibit the LRRK2 kinase, whose mutations are associated with the development of sporadic and familial cases of Parkinson’s.
Two LRRK2 inhibitors, currently being evaluated to treat Parkinson’s in two Phase 1 clinical trials, already have shown promising initial results.
Researchers want to establish optimal dosing strategies for efficient LRRK2 inhibitors, while avoiding lung changes that have been reported in previous preclinical studies in animal models.
Charles River will work on these projects for the next two years, providing novel preclinical tools for drug development in Parkinson’s disease.
“We are enthusiastic about the start of our new project,” Robert Hodgson, PhD, director In Vivo CNS, Integrated Drug Discovery at Charles River, said in a press release. “It is extremely rewarding for our teams to know that they are making visible progress toward bringing a novel [Parkinson’s] therapy to the clinic.”
Nicole Polinski, PhD, associate director of Research Programs at MJFF, added: “The Michael J. Fox Foundation is committed to advancing tools and pre-clinical models that speed Parkinson’s research toward urgently needed breakthroughs for patients.”
Polinski also underscored Charles River’s portfolio of early discovery services. “We look forward to seeing the outcomes of these projects, which may have a significant impact on development of new treatments for the millions living with this disease,” she said.
MJFF is the largest private funder of Parkinson’s research worldwide and collaborates with pharmaceutical companies, academic scientists and government research funders. The foundation also is involved in improving patient recruitment for clinical trials with its online tool, Fox Trial Finder, and in promoting disease awareness.