Seven big pharma companies have joined forces with a medical charity to improve clinical trials of new Parkinson’s disease (PD) therapies.
The ground-breaking consortium aims to accelerate the development of safe and effective therapies for the condition.
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition affecting 127,000 people in the UK, for which there is no cure. In 2012/13, the NHS spent more than £212 million on caring for people with Parkinson’s in England.
The Critical Path for Parkinson’s consortium brings together experts from both public and private organisations to share data, expertise and resources to promote and develop new treatments.
The new industry partners in the consortium are AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Biogen, Eli Lilly and Company, Merck Sharp & Dohme (known as Merck & Co in the US and Canada), Pfizer and UCB.
The consortium has been formed by Parkinson’s UK and the US-based Critical Path Institute (C-Path).
Dr Arthur Roach, Director of Research at Parkinson’s UK, the principal funder of the consortium, said: “Despite significant advances in our understanding of the genetics, biochemistry and pathology of Parkinson’s, the development of new treatments has not kept pace. New treatments are desperately needed to deal with the devastating effects of this progressive condition.
“Investing in clinical trials for brain disorders currently carries a high cost and high risk of failure. As the world’s largest patient-led Parkinson’s charity, we know that people living with conditions such as Parkinson’s have often been disappointed when drugs that showed significant promise early on failed in late stage testing.
“We see the consortium as a crucial part of strategies to develop new treatments that work at the earliest stage of the condition, with the goal of slowing its progression, and eventually finding a cure.”
After years of very little development in the PD therapy landscape, there are signs that prospects for patients are improving with 365 compounds in development addressing a broad range of molecular targets, according to a recent report from GBI Research.
Analyst Angel Wong notes that 43 per cent of those candidates with disclosed targets are first-in-class, with a number that are designed to address underlying neurodegenerative mechanisms in the disease. At the moment, PD treatments only provide symptomatic relief.