Despite a challenging year caused by COVID-19, Cure Parkinson’s has not been deterred in its efforts to identify and progress novel therapies to slow, stop and reverse Parkinson’s.

The Cure Parkinson’s research committee met virtually on four occasions during 2021 to review many grant applications. They commended their decisions to trustees for funding approval.

Research funding highlights of 2021

The TRANSEURO follow up study: Led by Prof. Roger Barker (University of Cambridge), the TRANSEURO project has been a game-changing study for future clinical trials focused on cell-replacement therapy for Parkinson’s. It has explored many different aspects of cell transplantation from patient selection to surgical device design. Cure Parkinson’s is proud to be supporting this project, and is funding a 3 year follow-up study to monitor participants over time to assess long term outcomes of cell-replacement therapy.

The LEARN study: Cure Parkinson’s is funding the “Listening to the Experience of pARticipants in Neurosurgical trials” (or LEARN) study led by Dr Emma Lane (Cardiff University) which aims to document the personal accounts of trial participants and their care partners that will help build key tools for planning future neurosurgical intervention trials for Parkinson’s.

A UK Parkinson’s Disease Clinical Study Group (UK PD-CSG): Professor Oliver Bandmann (University of Sheffield) is establishing a nationwide infrastructure for a study group focused specifically on conducting clinical trials for Parkinson’s. These study groups already exist in the US, France and Germany and, in addition to conducting ground-breaking studies, they play an important training role for clinical trials in the research community.

PD FRONTLINE 2-year extension: In order to have trial-ready cohorts for future clinical studies (such as the phase 3 ambroxol study) Cure Parkinson’s is further supporting the PD FRONTLINE project led by Prof. Anthony Schapira (University College London). This new funding is for a 2-year extension of the study, enabling the recruitment of a further 2,000 volunteers to the project.

Type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s: Cure Parkinson’s is supporting another study seeking to build trial-ready cohorts of people for future Parkinson’s clinical trials led by Dr Alastair Noyce (Queen Mary University of London). This study will support biomarker analysis in a cohort of people with Parkinson’s who have and do not have diabetes. 

Development of a best-in-class, brain penetrant iron chelator drug for Parkinson’s: Lowering excess iron in the brain using iron chelators, such as the drug deferiprone, has been shown to be protective in numerous models of Parkinson’s and Prof. David Devos (University of Lille, France) has led this pioneering area of research. Funded by Cure Parkinson’s, Prof. Devos will pre-clinically explore the next generation of iron chelating drugs which may exert improved properties for treating Parkinson’s. He will also monitor the drugs’ impacts with novel neuroimaging techniques.

Dual GLP-1 / GIP receptor agonists for Parkinson’s: Having played an important role in the phase 2 exenatide trial, Dr Dilan Athauda (University College London) will now assess the potential of using dual GLP-1/GIP receptor agonists in treating Parkinson’s, in this Cure Parkinson’s funded pre-clinical study. Using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derived dopaminergic neurons in the lab, Dr. Athauda will explore whether a combination of the two drugs is better at treating Parkinson’s than GLP-1 receptor agonists alone.

Pre-clinical evaluation of lonafarnib: Lonafarnib is a licensed drug that has shown interesting neuroprotective properties in laboratory models of neurodegeneration. Dr Joe Mazzulli (Northwestern University, U.S.) will further evaluate this molecule in models of Parkinson’s to determine whether this drug can be safely repurposed for clinical testing in people with Parkinson’s.

Determining the neuroprotective and neurorestorative efficacy of AAV-hGDF5: Professors Gerard O’Keeffe and Aideen Sullivan have determined that the growth factor GDF5 provides neuroprotective benefits in models of Parkinson’s. They will test a gene therapy delivery approach of this molecule into the brain. This new technology, funded by Cure Parkinson’s, is pre-clinical and will be tested in models of Parkinson’s.

Novel RNA m6A methyltransferase activators for Parkinson’s: The dysregulation of RNA m6A methyltransferase activity has been reported as a process in neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s. This new project, funded by Cure Parkinson’s and led by Professors Mart Saarma and Mati Karelson, will assess a novel small molecule activator of RNA m6A methyltransferase, which has been found to be neuroprotective in models of Parkinson’s.

We look forward to funding more exciting research in 2022 in our quest for novel disease modifying therapies that will slow, stop or reverse Parkinson’s.

How helpful was this content?

/ 5. Vote count:

We are sorry that this content was not useful for you

Let us improve this content

Can you tell us how we can improve this content?