$24M Collaboration to improve success of clinical trials for patients with Parkinson’s disease

The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and five life sciences companies today announced a public-private partnership to advance understanding, measurement and treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The latest focus of the NIH Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) model, this new AMP PD project will apply cutting-edge technologies to tease apart microscopic differences in the cells of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD).Parkinson's research

MJFF and the five industry partners are contributing a combined total of $12 million over five years to AMP PD. NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) will match those funds with an additional $12 million contribution. The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health will manage the project. 

The first phase of the project is an investigation of previously collected data and biosamples using state-of-the-art “omics” technologies (e.g., genomics, proteomics, metabolomics) to define the molecular fingerprint of Parkinson’s disease. Understanding the molecular differences in Parkinson’s can illuminate ways scientists may measure, track or treat the disease.

The partners initially will fund analysis of data and biosamples from (i) the MJFF-led Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative; (ii) the NINDS Parkinson’s Disease Biomarker Program; (iii) BioFIND, funded by MJFF and NINDS; and (iv) the Harvard Biomarkers Study.

“The Michael J. Fox Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, industry partners and thousands of research volunteers have built robust datasets and biosample banks ripe for inquiry with the latest technologies. Leveraging those previous investments and partnering together can move us faster toward greater understanding of Parkinson’s and therapies to slow or stop disease, patients’ greatest unmet need,” said Todd Sherer, PhD, MJFF Chief Executive Officer.

“AMP PD is the latest iteration of our longstanding alliance with The Michael J. Fox Foundation and would not have been possible without previous investment in these large-scale studies and the contributions of thousands of research volunteers,” said NINDS Director Walter Koroshetz, MD.

A cornerstone of AMP PD, the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) is an $80-million longitudinal biomarkers study using standardized methods to collect robust data and a multitude of biosamples from more than 1,500 volunteers enrolled at 33 clinical sites around the world. The availability of these samples was a driving factor in the partners’ decision to invest in AMP PD. Additionally, PPMI set standards for biosample collection and storage, which allows AMP PD scientists to compare results across studies.

In line with MJFF and NIH open-access policies, the partners will make data and analyses generated through this program publicly available to the broad biomedical community through the AMP PD Knowledge Portal, developed and made possible by an in-kind contribution of software and services by research organization Verily.

AMP Approach

The success of clinical trials aimed at developing new treatments for PD hinges on identifying and validating biomarkers that can track the progression of the disease. A wealth of information has been collected from individuals with PD through such programs as the NINDS’s Parkinson’s Disease Biomarkers Program (PDBP), The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF)’s Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, the MJFF/NINDS BioFIND cohort and the Harvard Biomarkers Study. However, the resources, time, and cost required to perform a large-scale analysis of that data has been prohibitive for individual researchers, companies and organizations.  AMP PD will provide the expertise and support needed to determine which biomarkers show the greatest potential for predicting PD and the progression of the disease.

Shake It Up have been funding the PPMI study in Australia and it is exciting to see the benefits this study is having on driving further research.  Find out more about the PPMI Study