New biotech to drive forward research into potentially life changing Parkinson’s treatment

  • Parkinson’s UK to create a company dedicated to pushing forward an experimental treatment with potential to stop or reverse Parkinson’s

  • The drug, called GDNF, is distributed directly into the brain via a surgically inserted delivery system.

  • Over the next two years, the charity will invest up to £800,000 to prepare for a potential new phase 2 clinical trial of GDNF.

Parkinson’s UK is creating a company solely dedicated to the development of a promising drug to stop Parkinson’s in its tracks.


Previously, the charity funded a pioneering trial to investigate whether boosting the levels of a naturally-occurring protein, Glial Cell-Line Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF), can regenerate dying brain cells in people with Parkinson's and reverse their condition - something that no existing treatment can do.


Arthur Roach, Head of Research at Parkinson’s UK, said:


“While our initial trial didn’t meet its critical endpoint, it did reveal robust evidence indicating that GDNF can possibly reverse Parkinson’s.


“This is why Parkinson’s UK is committed to continuing research into this potential treatment. We’ve created this company, Vivifi Biotech, through the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech, our drug development arm. The new company will bring the right people together to plan a new trial that meets the needs of patients, regulatory authorities and potential investors. Most importantly, we need to ensure that all the challenges identified by the previous trial are addressed and overcome.


“We have signed an agreement with MedGenesis Therapeutix Inc. - the company that led the development of GDNF up to now - which means that Vivifi Biotech will own the intellectual property and data needed to make potentially life-changing progress.”


Erich Mohr, Chairman and CEO of MedGenesis Therapeutix Inc., said:


“We are pleased that Parkinson’s UK will now be taking the lead in continuing the work we started together.


“MedGenesis truly believes GDNF holds promise to be the first ever treatment to reverse Parkinson’s and we are proud to be part of what we hope will be its transformative legacy.”


Vivifi’s next step is to investigate whether challenges presented by the first trial can be overcome, to further the development of GDNF. If successful, the company will create a fully-funded new trial, which could start as soon as 2022.


The results from the previous GDNF trial were published in February 2019. While there were some very encouraging signs of improvements in those receiving the treatment, and results from brain scans revealed extremely promising effects on damaged cells, disappointingly, there was no statistically significant difference between the active treatment group and those who received placebo on any of the standard assessments of Parkinson's symptoms.


Further analysis of the data using a pioneering combined metric - the Parkinson’s Disease Comprehensive Response (PDCORE) - showed a significant difference between patients treated with GDNF and those with placebo.


This offers further encouragement that the treatment may have beneficial effects, but there is a clear consensus that further trials will be needed if we are to clarify which patients should expect to experience which benefits, at what risk.


The findings from these ground-breaking trials were published in Brain, the Journal of Parkinson's Disease and Brain Communications.


The trial also featured in a two-part documentary series for BBC Two – The Parkinson’s Drug Trial: A Miracle Cure?



ENDS



Media enquiries:

For more information please contact: Tara Macpherson, Senior Media and PR Officer at Parkinson’s UK.

Email: tmacpherson@parkinsons.org.uk

Telephone: 0207 963 9311


You can also reach the Parkinson’s UK press office at: pr@parkinsons.org.uk, 0207 963 9370 or 07961 460248 (out of hours).



About Parkinson’s and Parkinson’s UK


Parkinson’s is what happens when the brain cells that make dopamine start to die. There are more than 40 symptoms, from tremor and pain to anxiety. Some are treatable, but the drugs can have serious side effects. It gets worse over time and there’s no cure. Yet.


Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. Around 145,000 people in the UK have Parkinson’s.


For more facts and statistics, please click here.


Further information, advice and support is available on our website, www.parkinsons.org.uk.


About The Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech


People with Parkinson’s urgently need new treatments. But right now, there’s a huge gap in drug development. The Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech exists to bridge that critical funding shortage.


It takes the most promising research and partners with institutions and pharmaceutical companies worldwide to develop the findings into plausible drug treatments. Currently there are projects at the non-clinical, preclinical and early clinical development stages.


With no large teams of scientists or expensive labs to run, the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech ensures that every penny of the annual £4m investment goes on what matters most: fast tracking the projects with the greatest potential to transform the lives of people with Parkinson’s.


No one else is doing this. It’s a bold risk. But we believe it will deliver a groundbreaking new treatment by 2024. Because people with Parkinson’s won’t wait. Together, we’ll find a cure.


To find out more, visit https://www.parkinsonsvirtualbiotech.co.uk/



About MedGenesis Therapeutix Inc.


MedGenesis is a privately held biopharmaceutical company committed to developing and commercializing innovative therapeutics to provide life-enhancing treatments to patients with serious neurologic diseases, employing convection-enhanced delivery (CED), a minimally invasive technique that provides for targeted, local treatment of serious conditions such as Parkinson's, epilepsy, brain cancer and other severely debilitating diseases of the central nervous system.


Learn more about MedGenesis at: www.medgenesis.com