World Parkinson’s Day: New drug research

World Parkinson's Day

It is World Parkinson’s Day (11 April), raising awareness of the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. There is currently no cure, and although there are therapeutics to manage the symptoms, these usually bring side-effects, and so there is still need for new therapeutic options.

Here, we take a look at the latest drug discovery efforts to meet this unmet need.

A treatment from sea sponge

Organic chemists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) created the first synthetic version of a molecule recently discovered in a sea sponge that may have therapeutic benefits for Parkinson’s disease and similar disorders.

The molecule, known as lissodendoric acid A, appears to counteract other molecules that can damage DNA, RNA and proteins and even destroy whole cells.

Read more: Synthesised sea sponge molecule could fight Parkinson’s

Changing the therapeutic focus

Researchers identified that a gene associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s Disease also contributes to a build-up of cell debris in the brain.

Dr Adekunle Bademosi from The Queensland Brain Institute said the discovery could change the focus of Parkinson’s Disease treatment.

Read more: Focus on autophagy could lead to more effective Parkinson’s drugs

New funding for clinical trials

Cerevance closed a total financing of $116 million to advance CVN424, its first-in-class, oral, GPR6 inverse agonist.

The drug has demonstrated safety and efficacy as an adjunctive Parkinson’s therapy with levodopa and the company plans to initiate a Phase II study assessing it as a monotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed Parkinson’s disease this year.

Read more: $116 million financing will support neurological disease trials

New research facilities

Plans have been revealed for a new 11,800 square foot specialised life sciences laboratory in the roof space of The Francis Crick Institute in London, UK.

The development will support research partnerships such as that between MSD and Crick scientists, who are working together to understand neurodegeneration by building models of Parkinson’s disease using state-of-the-art stem cell technologies.

Read more: Francis Crick Institute to open ‘Skylab’ in London

Supporting academic research

Ubiquigent has announced it is supporting a Master’s student at the University of Glasgow (UoG) to undertake a research project on USP30. USP30 inhibition has been proposed as a therapeutic strategy for Parkinson’s disease.

USP30 is a (de)ubiquitylation (DUB) implicated in neurodegenerative diseases that regulates the clearance of damaged mitochondria in a process called mitophagy. Dysregulation of mitophagy is closely linked to the development of several diseases, with USP30 modulation offering a potential treatment.

Read more: Industry-academia partners to exploit USP30 as a therapy target

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