With a grant of $475,000, the Michael J. Fox Foundation is funding preclinical development of a vaccine against Parkinson's disease by AFFiRiS AG. The vaccine, known as PD01, targets the protein alpha-synuclein and might offer for the first time a possibility for a treatment that can slow or stop the progression of Parkinson's disease.
The basis of PD01 is the company's AFFITOME® technology, which already delivered, among others, two vaccines from AFFiRiS AG for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
AFFiRiS AG, based in Vienna, Austria, today announced that one of its current nine development programs will receive funding from the US Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF). The American actor, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991, established the foundation in 2000. Its aim is to fund peer reviewed therapeutic development for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, a progressive disease of the nervous system. The foundation will now support the development of the PD01 vaccine by AFFiRiS AG with $475,000. This sum has been committed for the completion of the preclinical development of the vaccine. The successful preclinical proof of concept was only recently announced by the company, in March 2010.
Dr. Markus Mandler, Head of the department of Neurodegenerative Diseases at AFFiRiS AG, is delighted about the financial contribution to the development of PD01 and the recognition that it represents: "As many as one in a hundred people over age 60 develops Parkinson's disease. Despite this large number, medical developments to date have mainly addressed the symptoms of the disease - a treatment that can slow or stop disease progression has not been successfully developed."
The vaccine PD01 targets the protein known as alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn), whose accumulation and associated deposition in the brain are considered to be key for the progression of Parkinson's disease. A reduction in the alpha-syn concentration in the brain should therefore have a positive effect on the clinical progression of Parkinson's. PD01 triggers an effective immune response to the harmful alpha-syn, to allow the patients' own immune system to reduce this protein.