$10M grant will aid development of multiple protein biomarker assay

MJFF award went to Octave Biosciences

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by Andrea Lobo |

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The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) has awarded a $10 million grant to Octave Biosciences to advance the development and validation of a protein biomarker panel assay for Parkinson’s disease.

A biomarker assay for multiple proteins could offer a better tool to monitor and manage disease activity and progression, and contribute to research and the development of new therapies.

The company was selected due to its experience in biomarker research and its development and commercialization of a blood biomarker assay panel for multiple sclerosis, which is currently in use in clinics across the U.S.

“Our goal is to create a powerful biomarker tool that addresses a variety of applications ranging from disease activity and progression, disease staging, and subtyping, as well as disease-modifying treatment development and monitoring,” Jim Eubanks, PhD, Octave’s national director of medical affairs and principal investigator of the project, said in a press release.

“Biomarker testing is a promising development in identifying best responders to certain treatments, evaluating treatment impact, and tracking disease progression – all things that would improve disease management and patient outcomes, ” added Mark Frasier, PhD, MJFF’s chief scientific officer.

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Biomarkers specific to Parkinson’s

The grant will contribute to the discovery, development, and validation of a custom multiple protein biomarker assay panel specific to Parkinson’s disease, providing a broad approach to the complexity and heterogeneity of the disease.

The goal is to use the panel to measure Parkinson’s disease activity and progression in the clinic to help address the high unmet need for objective and more precise measures, based on each patient’s characteristics.

Insights obtained can contribute to clarifying biological mechanisms in Parkinson’s disease, allowing more informed care, shared decision-making, which could lead to better patient outcomes.

“This project is incredibly meaningful to us, as it further extends our mission to build precision care solutions that transform the lives of people living with high cost, complex, and debilitating neurodegenerative conditions,” said William Hagstrom, Octave’s founder and CEO.

“This important scientific research and development project … could have a profound impact for the industry, and most importantly, for those living with Parkinson’s,” Eubanks said.

Octave will take advantage of MJFF data resources, particularly the MJFF Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), an observational study aimed at identifying biomarkers and other clinical changes associated with Parkinson’s risk, onset, and progression.

Using PPMI data, MJFF recently announced the validation of a biological diagnosis test to measure alpha-synuclein protein, a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease that’s believed to play a role in neuronal death and disease progression.

“MJFF is at the forefront of scientific research, and we look forward to building on their extraordinary insights as well as their deep knowledge of the disease and its pathophysiology to create the industry’s first validated multiplexed biomarker assay panel for Parkinson’s,” Hagstrom said.