USD $4.5 million co-funding agreement for Parkinson’s research announced

LONDON (February 13, 2020) The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT) and Van Andel Institute (VAI) have announced a new three-year co-funding agreement that pledges USD $4.5 million to Parkinson’s research, strengthening an already long-standing partnership.

This funding will support the International Linked Clinical Trials (iLCT) initiative, a thriving global programme that aims to develop new, potentially disease-modifying Parkinson’s therapies, many of which are repurposed medications originally designed or approved to treat other diseases. Candidate drugs are evaluated and prioritised annually by a committee of world-leading Parkinson’s experts, who select which drugs should enter clinical trials in people with Parkinson’s. These drugs have the potential to get to the clinic much faster as they have already passed crucial safety tests.

Currently, 15 trials of drugs evaluated by the committee are underway and seven trials have been completed. In addition, a further 10 trials are in the planning stages. To date, iLCT has included more than 2500 trial participants.

Since its inception in 2012, CPT’s and VAI’s involvement has ensured that each year the iLCT initiative goes from strength to strength as progressively more clinical trials of potentially disease-modifying drugs are launched within the programme.

The iLCT initiative has already shown positive results, most recently in the phase II clinical trial of ambroxol led by Professor Anthony Schapira of the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology. Ambroxol is a drug prioritised by the iLCT committee in 2014 and currently in use to treat respiratory conditions. The results, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in January, revealed that ambroxol was safe and well tolerated by participants. Importantly, the results also showed the drug was able to cross the blood brain barrier and increase levels of glucocerebrosidase (GCase) in the brain cells of people with Parkinson’s. The protein GCase allows cells to remove waste more effectively, a function which evidence suggests is deficient in some people with Parkinson’s. Increasing levels of this protein may have the potential to keep cells healthier for longer and, therefore, slow Parkinson’s progression.

In addition to the new funding for the iLCT programme, VAI and CPT together with the John Black Charitable Foundation have agreed to co-fund £522,000 (or USD $679,000) of the next phase in a programme of research into ambroxol to assist the drug to move forward into phase III trials. The first step, led by Professor Schapira of UCL, is to determine the optimal dose of the drug.

Professor Patrik Brundin, Chair of the Linked Clinical Trials committee and Director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Science at VAI said:

We are thrilled to continue our long-standing collaboration with The Cure Parkinson’s Trust on the International Linked Clinical Trials initiative and look forward to expanding our program to evaluate additional promising medications in the coming years. We are especially grateful to the trial participants, without whom this critical work would not be possible. I am immensely hopeful that, together, we will find a way to slow or stop Parkinson’s progression.

Will Cook, CEO of CPT said

CPT is delighted to announce this funding agreement, which builds on the ground-breaking relationship the charity has developed with VAI since 2012. This will enable the launch of many more clinical trials of potentially disease-modifying repurposed and novel drugs that have been identified through the diligent iLCT process, and thereby bringing us closer to our goal: a cure for the 10 million people living with Parkinson’s globally.

Dr Richard Wyse, Director of Research & Development at CPT said

The massive clinical undertaking involving so many drugs repurposed from other therapeutic areas is unique not only in neurology, but is larger than any drug repositioning programme, whether academic or commercial, in any other disease. The partnership between VAI and CPT bears testament to the principle of collaboration and we look forward to continuing and growing this partnership in the years ahead.