The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) for Parkinson's Research has awarded approximately $1.9 million to six teams working to develop neuroimaging technologies that would allow scientists to non-invasively visualize the clumping of the alpha-synuclein protein in the living human brain.
Such technologies would dramatically accelerate research into the cause, progression and treatment of Parkinson's disease (PD): investigators could more accurately identify individuals with PD, as well as better characterize disease pathology and relate it to clinical measures of onset and progression, according to the foundation.
There is also growing interest in therapeutics that directly target alpha-synuclein; hence, a non-invasive imaging tool would be a useful therapeutic response marker for drug makers wishing to test the biological impact of potentially disease-modifying drugs. Such tools would have a huge impact on clinical trial designs, allowing for more accurate patient selection and clearer trial outcome measures, MJFF said.
The program was funded with a lead gift from the Edmond J. Safra Foundation in memory of its founder, Edmond J. Safra. The full funding is dependent on the achievement of pre-determined, specific milestones and on researchers' agreement to make the results of their work available to the Parkinson's research community, according to MJFF.
Information on the funded projects, including grant abstracts and researcher bios, is available on the foundation's Searchable Database of Funded Grants.