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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Foundation Awards $1.9 Million for Development of Non-Invasive Neuroimaging Techniques

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research awarded approximately $1.9 million total to six teams working to develop neuroimaging technologies that would allow scientists to non-invasively visualize the clumping of the alpha-synuclein protein in the living human brain. Such technologies would dramatically accelerate research into the cause, progression and treatment of Parkinson's, says the foundation, named for the famed actor who suffers from the illness.

Investigators could more accurately identify individuals with Parkinson's as well as better characterize disease pathology and relate it to clinical measures of onset and progression. There is also growing interest in therapeutics that directly target alpha-synuclein; hence, a non-invasive imaging tool would be a useful therapeutic response marker for drug makers wishing to test biological impact of potentially disease-modifying drugs. Such tools would have a huge impact on clinical trial designs, allowing for more accurate patient selection and clearer trial outcome measures, the foundation says.

This program was funded with a lead gift from The Edmond J. Safra Foundation, which has been one of the most steadfast supporters of The Michael J. Fox Foundation since its inception, the Fox foundation says.

The Fox foundation says that as with all of its grants, full funding is dependent on the achievement of predetermined, specific milestones and on researchers' agreement to make the results of their work available to the Parkinson's research community.

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