The International Linked Clinical Trials (iLCT) program, a collaborative effort from The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT), the Van Andel Institute (VAI), and now the John Black Charitable Foundation (JBCF), has pledged $6.75 million over three years to support clinical trials of potential Parkinson’s disease treatments.
The iLCT program was initially a collaboration between the CPT and the VAI. By joining in, the JBCF has allowed the program to expand and ultimately support the development of more potential treatments.
“We are thrilled that our long-standing collaboration with The Cure Parkinson’s Trust on the International Linked Clinical Trials initiative has received this large funding commitment from the John Black Charitable Foundation, and look forward to expanding our program to evaluate additional promising medications in the coming years,” Patrik Brundin, MD, PhD, director of VAI’s Center for Neurodegenerative Science, said in a press release.
The pledged funding will support the development of medications identified as having potential disease-modifying properties. The majority of these medications have been repurposed after being initially designed to treat other diseases.
The benefit of developing repurposed medications is that they have been previously tested in clinical trials, meaning that key safety data has already been established.
“The massive clinical undertaking involving so many drugs repurposed from other therapeutic areas is unique not only in neurology, but is larger than any drug repositioning programme, whether academic or commercial, in any other disease,” said Richard Wyse, MD, director of research & development at CPT.
The process of identifying which potential medications to support is directed by the iLCT committee. It meets annually to determine funding priorities; the most recent meeting occurred Sept. 21-23.
Since its inception in 2012, the iLCT program has prioritized 46 medications for further development, many of which have been fast-tracked for clinical trials.
“The scientific collaboration, and funding partnership, between VAI and CPT has produced scientific rigour, creativity and, of course, numerous clinical trials of drugs, each with strong potential to slow or stop the progression of Parkinson’s,” Wyse said. “With the further funding agreed with JBCF, we look forward to continuing and accelerating the iLCT programme in the years ahead, until we find a cure.”
The JBCF initially collaborated with VAI and CPT in 2014, to support the development of ambroxol — traditionally a respiratory medication — for the treatment of Parkinson’s.
The results showed that ambroxol was safe and well-tolerated, and could cross the blood-brain barrier and increase levels of glucocerebrosidase, a protein involved with waste regulation in the brain, among the study’s participants.
Reduced glucocerebrosidase activity has been observed in Parkinson’s patients. It is thought that glucocerebrosidase activity is involved in the removal of alpha-synuclein, a protein that forms abnormal aggregations, or clumps, in the brain cells of patients with this neurodegenerative disease.
Following the partnership that supported the ambroxol study, the JBCF officially joined the iLCT program and is contributing to its overarching goal of supporting Parkinson’s treatment development.
“We are hugely grateful to the John Black Charitable Foundation and the trust they have shown in CPT, VAI and the groundbreaking work of our iLCT committee,” said Will Cook, CEO of CPT.
“Every penny donated will be used to deliver clinical trials in the programme,” he added. “We have now prioritised several drugs with promise which are not yet in trial, and this money will enable us to support trials for several of these. This is exciting, as all the prioritised drugs have the potential to take us closer to our goal: a cure for the 10 million people worldwide living with Parkinson’s.”
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