Foundation research

Parkinson’s Foundation and Parkinson’s UK to boost drug development

The Parkinson Foundation and United Kingdomwhich funds research and provides support for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD), announced a new international strategic partnership to boost investment in research into new treatments for PD, which affects 10 million people worldwide .

Over the next three years, the Parkinson Foundation will invest at least $3 million in the Virtual Parkinson’s Biotechnology, the drug development arm of Parkinson’s UK. The money, alongside ongoing investment from Parkinson’s UK, will accelerate research into the scientific breakthroughs that have the greatest potential to become life-changing medicines.

Parkinson’s UK has invested over $19 million in virtual biotechnology projects since its launch in 2017.

How it works

Operating like a biotech but without the added costs of full-time staff and buildings, Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech is a new approach to drug development in the charitable sector.

Led by pharmaceutical and biotechnology experts, the Virtual Biotech team reviews and curates the most promising research from the thousands of studies underway at any given time. Experts identify high-potential projects that would otherwise struggle to find private sector investors.

Then, Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech invests directly in these, providing ongoing monitoring and management, and identifying the right global partners to work with.

Currently, Virtual Parkinson’s Biotechnology is accelerating nine promising projects, including the potential of cannabidiol to treat psychosis in PD, whether a common anti-disease drug could manage hallucinations, and whether it is possible to develop therapies that restore mitochondrial function to slow or stop disease. .

Existing treatments

Parkinson’s disease is the fastest growing neurological disease in the world and there is currently no cure. Nothing can slow, stop or reverse the progression of the disease. Existing treatments can help manage symptoms, but often come with side effects and become less effective over time.

Arthur Roach, director of research at Parkinson’s UK, said: ‘Drug development is ultimately what will lead to new treatments, but it comes with high risk, high costs and long lead times. . Our innovative approach takes inspiration from private sector and venture capital funding methods and adapts them to the charitable context, allowing us to be nimble and tactical in how we invest, monitor and move projects forward.

“This is an exciting new phase for Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech. We have been growing steadily and are starting to see the first successes of the first projects we have invested in over the past five years. But we’ve always known there’s a lot more to do than we can handle on our own, and we hoped that by championing this innovative approach, we could inspire others to collaborate with us in this next phase. and create a truly international movement.

“Through this long-term strategic partnership with the Parkinson Foundation, together we will be able to invest more funds in more projects, new and existing. Together, we can deliver much-needed new treatments for Parkinson’s disease in years, not decades. »

Long story

The two transatlantic charities have worked together for a long time. They share an active decade-long collaboration to accelerate research through effective patient engagement. A new phase of collaboration began with the first grant from the Parkinson’s Foundation to support Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech in September 2019.

“We are delighted to partner with Parkinson’s UK to further the development of drug discovery, as part of our new Venture Philanthropy Fund, which will help the international Parkinson’s community,” said John L. Lehr, Chairman – CEO of the Parkinson’s Foundation.

“This collaboration will help us better serve people living with Parkinson’s today while advancing the promise of a cure tomorrow.