Release Date: January 30 2019

The Australian Parkinson’s Mission, an innovative program combining clinical trials with genomics research for people with Parkinson’s, has received $30 million in Federal Government funding, the most significant investment in Australian Parkinson’s research.

The funding, announced today by Federal Minister for Health, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, will enable the Australian Parkinson’s Mission to identify desperately needed disease modifying drugs with the potential to slow the progression of Parkinson’s.

“We’re thrilled to announce $30 million over five years in funding from the Medical Research Future Fund. The Australian Parkinson’s Mission aligns with many of the priorities of the Medical Research Futures Fund which includes addressing areas of unmet need, genomics and developing new treatments from drug repurposing,” says The Hon. Greg Hunt, MP.

The Australian Parkinson’s Mission is an Australian-led international collaboration between Shake It Up Australia Foundation, The Garvan Institute of Medical Research, The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (UK), Michael J. Fox Foundation (USA) and Parkinson’s Australia.

“There are approximately 200,000 Australians living with Parkinson’s. Currently, there are no treatments that can slow, stop or cure the disease, and no ways for us to detect and diagnose the disease early. The Australian Parkinson’s Mission is a big step towards identifying the underlying cause of this devastating disease, treatments that stop the disease progressing and, ultimately, a cure.”

The Australian Parkinson’s Mission will test repurposed drugs in a world-first in Parkinson’s clinical trial design, which means effective treatments can be identified and fast tracked to people with the disease. Sequencing the genome of each patient, the Australian Parkinson’s Mission will establish a first step toward personalised medicine for Parkinson’s patients and will drive drug discovery in the future.

Head of the Neurodegeneration and Neurogenomics Program at the Garvan Institute, Associate Professor Antony Cooper, says, “The Australian Parkinson’s Mission employs an entirely new design for Parkinson’s. The findings from our clinical trials will be integrated with analyses of patients’ genomic information and biomarkers – naturally occurring measurable indicators of a disease. This will help us identify the right drug for the right patient to halt this disease.”

CEO of Shake It Up Australia, Clyde Campbell, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009, says, “This five year program includes multiple clinical trials of potentially disease modifying drugs and treatments across Australia and will include many hundreds of patients. It’s going to have a substantial impact on identifying effective treatments and fast tracking them to people with the disease.”

Neurologists, Professor Simon Lewis (National Trials Lead) and Associate Professor John O’Sullivan (Uni Qld Trials Lead), say, “Despite substantial efforts, we’re still no closer to better treatments against disease progression or diagnostics for Parkinson’s. This is a multifaceted approach with international experts to address the primary unmet need in Parkinson’s globally.”

Director of Research and Development at The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, Dr Richard Wyse says, “The Australian Parkinson’s Mission will initially test the effectiveness of four repurposed drugs from The Cure Parkinson’s Trust’s international Linked Clinical Trials programme which have been evaluated by a committee of international Parkinson’s experts, to prioritise drugs with the potential to slow or stop Parkinson’s disease. With thanks to the Australian Government for its visionary support in this ground-breaking and unified approach to tackling Parkinson’s in Australia and around the world.”

Senior Vice President, Research Programs at The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Dr Brian Fiske, said, “As a global leader in funding research and therapeutic development for Parkinson’s disease, we are thrilled that the Australian government is supporting this important mission. It has the potential to advance precision medicine and improve treatment for people with Parkinson’s worldwide.”

CEO of Parkinson’s Australia, Steve Sant says, “This represents the most significant investment in Parkinson’s research in Australian history. We applaud the Government for their innovative and forward-thinking actions to support this Australian-led international effort.”

The Mission also collaborates with Associate Professor Vikram Khurana at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Assistant Professor, Jian Peng at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Australian Parkinson’s Mission will:

  • Identify and fast track effective treatments for people with Parkinson’s;
  • Create a pioneering model for future nation-wide collaborations between researchers, clinicians and people living with Parkinson’s;
  • Increase access to repurposed and new drugs;
  • Identify potential diagnostic tools for Parkinson’s to enable early disease detection and intervention;
  • Involve 1,000 people with Parkinson’s over five years.

About the Study
The APM will be available for all people with Parkinson’s — those who have been newly diagnosed, and those who have been living with the disease.

Recruitment has now commenced, with eight sites across Australia (in NSW, VIC, SA, WA and QLD), opening for participant enrolment and recruitment.

Please visit the APM website for more information on your nearest site.


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