Cure Parkinson’s and VAI renew support of Parkinson’s trials

UK charity, US institute to donate $4.5M more for research

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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A coin is ready to drop into the slot of a pig-shaped piggy bank.

Cure Parkinson’s and the Van Andel Institute (VAI) will continue to support a global program that seeks to develop disease-modifying therapies for Parkinson’s — to which the two donated $4.5 million in 2020.

Now, the U.K. charity and the Michigan-based research institute have renewed their previous funding agreement for an additional three years, pledging another $4.5 million to fund Parkinson’s research. At the forefront of these efforts is the ongoing, international Linked Clinical Trials (iLCT) initiative.

The iLCT aims to identify treatments that might slow, halt, or even reverse Parkinson’s, focusing largely on therapies already approved for other diseases.

“We are delighted to announce this funding agreement, which underpins the next three years of investment in Parkinson’s research and builds on the excellent relationship developed with VAI since 2012,” Will Cook, CEO of Cure Parkinson’s, said in a press release issued by the nonprofit.

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New funding will support ongoing iLCT initiative

The two organizations match each other’s funds for Parkinson’s clinical trials, which have increased since the launch of iLCT in 2012. The new agreement also opens up the possibility for joint fundraising initiatives.

“This will enable the launch of more clinical trials of potentially disease-modifying drugs that have been identified through the ground-breaking iLCT process,” Cook said, adding, “It brings us closer to changing the future for the 10 million people living with Parkinson’s globally.”

To date, more than 4,700 people have taken part in iLCT trials, with 21 studies now underway.

Two Parkinson’s Phase 3 trials, supported by the iLCT program and designed to test therapies approved for other conditions, are either expected to start this year or already ongoing.

The ASPro-PD Phase 3 trial, anticipated to be launched in upcoming months, will assess the effectiveness of ambroxol against a placebo at slowing Parkinson’s progression in up to 300 people with Parkinson’s. Participants will be enrolled at 10 to 12 clinical sites in the U.K., and will be followed for two years.

Ambroxol (sold as Mucosolvan, among others) has long been used to treat certain respiratory conditions.

Previous studies have shown that the therapy also increases the activity of beta-glucocerebrosidase (GCase), an enzyme encoded by the GBA gene that allows cells to more effectively remove waste. Mutations in this gene, which result in a defective CGase enzyme, are a genetic risk factor for Parkinson’s.

The therapy’s potential in Parkinson’s was previously shown in the Phase 2 AIM-PD trial (NCT02941822), completed in 2018. Data demonstrated that ambroxol was safe and well-tolerated, in addition to having the ability to reach the brain and increase GCase levels in brain cells of Parkinson’s patients.

We are thrilled to continue partnering with Cure Parkinson’s to support the International Linked Clinical Trials initiative and our collective pursuit of new treatments that could slow or stop Parkinson’s progression.

The ongoing Phase 3 Exenatide-PD3 trial (NCT04232969) is evaluating the two-year safety and effectiveness of exenatide, a medication used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, versus a placebo in people with Parkinson’s. The trial, conducted at a single U.K. center, involves 194 patients. Results are expected in 2024.

“We are thrilled to continue partnering with Cure Parkinson’s to support the International Linked Clinical Trials initiative and our collective pursuit of new treatments that could slow or stop Parkinson’s progression,” said Darren Moore, PhD, chair of VAI’s department of neurodegenerative science and a member of the iLCT committee.

“Together, we are committed to finding life-changing therapies that give people more years with improved quality of life,” Moore added.