Billerica, MA – ProterixBio, Inc. today announced the receipt of a grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF). The grant funds a collaboration between ProterixBio and the University of Zurich in Switzerland focused on the development of a novel bioanalytical assay workflow that aims to measure small amounts of aberrant alpha-synuclein in patient specimens.
There are currently no definitive diagnostic tests available to test for Parkinson’s disease, a progressive movement disorder affecting about one million Americans. Current diagnostic methods employ a review of the medical history of patients, symptomatic assessment and a neurological exam. One of the key challenges in the field of Parkinson’s diagnosis, drug development and disease management is the lack of a test for early disease identification. A more sensitive assay that measures the Parkinson’s-characteristic aggregated form of alpha-synuclein in cerebrospinal fluid and ultimately blood may lead to earlier diagnosis, which could advance drug discovery and allow for earlier intervention testing.
“There is a clear unmet need for an earlier diagnosis via molecular biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease,” said ProterixBio’s chief scientific officer Martin Latterich, PhD, principal investigator of the study. “The identification of the disease prior to onset of symptoms will benefit researchers developing drugs aimed at slowing or stopping the disease in its earliest stages, including those projects targeted at preventing or clearing alpha-synuclein aggregates.”
The grant is part of MJFF’s Improved Biomarkers and Clinical Outcome Measures funding program. This work will be carried out as a close collaboration between ProterixBio and the group of Adriano Aguzzi, MD, PhD, chairman of the Institute of Neuropathology at the University of Zurich and co-principal investigator of the study. Dr. Aguzzi is a world-renowned expert in protein-folding disorders and has made seminal discoveries in the area of neurological disorders, including prion diseases.
“This research study, if successful, will have developed a biochemical assay platform that enables the sensitive detection of misfolded alpha-synuclein aggregates at greater analytical sensitivity than currently possible,” said Dr. Aguzzi. “It addresses important topics in the clinical management of Parkinson’s disease: the need for earlier diagnosis, differential diagnosis and baseline prognostication to quantitatively describe disease activity.”
“Research has shown the process of Parkinson’s starts well before the cardinal motor symptoms appear,” said Samantha Hutten, PhD, MJFF senior associate director of research programs. “An alpha-synuclein assay with high specificity and sensitivity, such as what ProterixBio and the University of Zurich are working toward, would be an incredibly valuable tool to study the disease in its earliest stages and to intervene with future disease-modifying therapies.”
ProterixBio develops and commercializes disease management solutions that integrate novel bioclinical analytics with digital tools to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of chronic disease care. The company is dedicated to leveraging its innovative approach and differentiated expertise to build transformative disease management platforms. ProterixBio’s initial focus is on pulmonary diseases such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which affects more than 12 million Americans. ProterixBio continues to build a pipeline of assays addressing disease management needs of other chronic diseases, including neurodegenerative disease. ProterixBio is headquartered in Billerica, Mass, and its website is www.proterixbio.com.
About the University of Zurich
The University of Zurich is one of the leading research universities in Europe, and numerous distinctions highlight the University’s international renown in the fields of medicine, immunology, genetics, neuroscience and structural biology as well as in economics. To date, the Nobel Prize has been conferred on 12 UZH scholars. The academic excellence of the University of Zurich brings benefits to both the public and the private sectors not only in the Canton of Zurich, but throughout Switzerland. Knowledge is shared in a variety of ways: in addition to granting the general public access to its 12 museums and many of its libraries, the University makes findings from cutting-edge research available to the public in accessible and engaging lecture series and panel discussions.
About the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
As the world’s largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson’s research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson’s disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today. The Foundation pursues its goals through an aggressively funded, highly targeted research program coupled with active global engagement of scientists, Parkinson’s patients, business leaders, clinical trial participants, donors and volunteers. In addition to funding more than $600 million in research to date, the Foundation has fundamentally altered the trajectory of progress toward a cure. Operating at the hub of worldwide Parkinson’s research, the Foundation forges groundbreaking collaborations with industry leaders, academic scientists and government research funders; increases the flow of participants into Parkinson’s disease clinical trials with its online tool, Fox Trial Finder; promotes Parkinson’s awareness through high-profile advocacy, events and outreach; and coordinates the grassroots involvement of thousands of Team Fox members around the world.