The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) recently awarded Alkahest a grant to support the development of ALK4290 as a new therapy for Parkinson’s disease.
The immune system plays an important role in the development and progression of Parkinson’s disease. New therapies targeting the recruitment of immune cells, or inhibiting brain inflammation, could be effective in treating the disease.
ALK4290 is an oral, small molecule medicine that acts as a key modulator of inflammation, with potential effects on multiple symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.
The investigational compound has been well-tolerated in previous clinical studies and is currently being studied in wet age-related macular degeneration (wAMD), a medical condition that frequently leads to vision loss in the center of the visual field.
Both studies (ALK4290-201 and ALK4290-202) are open-label Phase 2 clinical trials evaluating the therapeutic effects and safety of a six-week oral treatment regimen of ALK4290 in patients with either newly diagnosed wAMD or refractory wAMD. Both studies will be conducted in Europe (Hungary and Poland).
The MJFF grant will test whether ALK4290 can be used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Researchers will evaluate the effect of ALK4290 in two pre-clinical models relevant to Parkinson’s disease biology and will assess whether ALK4290 reverses deficits in motor function and loss of neurons through inhibition of inflammation in these animal models.
This project will attempt to determine the mechanisms underlying immune cell involvement in Parkinson’s disease, providing further support for the link between neuroinflammation and disease progression. If the study proves successful, the compound will rapidly enter clinical testing to evaluate its potential benefits for Parkinson’s patients.
“Parkinson’s disease is a condition with significant impact on patients whose needs are still unmet. We are excited about the prospects of evaluating ALK4290 as a novel therapeutic in this indication and continuing our commitment to developing innovative treatments for age-related disorders,” Steven Braithwaite, Alkahest’s chief scientific officer, said in a press release.
“Our Foundation funds novel approaches to slow or stop Parkinson’s progression, the greatest unmet need for the millions living with this disease,” added Liliana Menalled, PhD, MJFF senior associate director of research programs. “The ALK4290 molecule shows strong data to support additional evaluation as a potential Parkinson’s therapy, and we look forward to seeing the results of Alkahest’s experiments.”
The grant, “Development of ALK4290 as a novel PD therapeutic,” will be coordinated by S. Sakura Minami, PhD, who has 15 years of research experience in the field of neuroscience. She leads her research group at Alkahest, Inc., a biotech company located in the San Francisco Bay area, to better understand the mechanisms underlying aging and to develop therapies for age-related diseases.
ALK4290 was acquired by Alkahest from Boehringer Ingelheim with exclusive rights for its development and commercialization worldwide.