Michael J. Fox Foundation Awards $2.4 Million for Drug Repositioning Efforts

The New York City-based Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research has announced grants totaling $2.4 million to support five drug-repositioning projects.

Grants were awarded to test drugs that are either FDA-approved or have been proven safe for a certain indication to determine whether they might be efficacious in another therapeutic area. Grant recipients include Daniel Kaufman and William Melega at the University of California, Los Angeles, who hope to determine whether a common tuberculosis vaccine can be used as an immune-stimulant to slow the progression of Parkinson's; Ole Isacson and Penelope J. Halley, researchers at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, who are evaluating whether the antidepressant duloxetine, also known as Cymbalta, can be used in neuro-protective therapy; and Barry Hoffer, Yun Wang, and Nigel Greig, who are investigating how an agent used to treat type 2 diabetes might contribute to the elevation of hormones that have been shown to have neuro-protective effects in Parkinson's preclinical models.

The foundation also awarded grants to John Ciallella and John Gruner at Melior Discovery to determine whether a compound used to treat ADHD can enhance dopamine production as a form of symptomatic therapy; Jeff MacKeigan and Caryl Sortwell, researchers at the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who are looking to target the enhancement of neuronal regeneration in the brain with Fasudil, a drug used to treat blood vessel spasms; and Elkan Gamzu, a NeuroHealing Pharmaceuticals researcher who is working to advance the clinical development of a drug used to treat uncontrolled salivation or drooling, which is common in people with Parkinson's. One additional drug repositioning grant is expected to be announced in the fall.

"We are committed to bringing breakthrough Parkinson's treatments to market as quickly as possible," said Kuldip Dave, associate director of research programs at the foundation. "The development of new drugs is expensive and time-consuming. By identifying therapies that are already clinically available, we can potentially mitigate the time and costs involved in finding drugs that could help people living with Parkinson's."

"The Michael J. Fox Foundation Announces Its 2011 Drug Repositioning Grants." Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research Press Release 07/28/2011.