Parkinson's UK partners with biotech in new hope for dyskinesia
Parkinson's UK is partnering with US biotech Neurolixis to accelerate the development of a promising new drug that could prevent one of the most debilitating side effects of Parkinson's medication – dyskinesia.
Caused by years of taking levodopa – the main drug used to treat the condition – dyskinesias are involuntary muscle movements that can't be controlled, including twitches, jerks, twisting or writhing movements, and restlessness. It affects thousands of people in the UK and can make everyday tasks such as eating, walking and writing almost impossible.
Around half (40 to 50%) of all people with Parkinson's will experience it after just 5 years of taking levodopa, and up to 80% of people will experience it after 10 years of the medication.
The charity is now providing funding of more than £780,000 for Neurolixis to carry out the final research needed before the drug, NLX-112, can progress to human clinical trials. This includes drug formulation, preparation of clinical trial materials and safety and efficacy testing in a marmoset model of Parkinson's.
Matt Eagles has been taking medication for Parkinson's since he was eight years old. Now in his 40s, he experiences dyskinesia daily. He said:
"It's like I have no control over my limbs and my strings are being pulled by a puppet master. I can't hold things still, so I can't do simple things people take for granted like read a book, hold a phone to my ear or type on a keyboard. Even going to the loo can be difficult and sometimes very embarrassing.
"I think having dyskinesia is more disabling than having Parkinson's itself. It's certainly more distressing for people who witness my episodes. It's also incredibly exhausting – to be constantly writhing around – and it can be very violent. Just last year I ripped a muscle in my shoulder because of a particularly violent jerk of my arm. It was so painful and it took a very long time to heal. It still bothers me today.
"Being able to take something that could give me back control of my body would be amazing - a game-changer. It's been so long since I have been able to shave without cutting myself or eat something without throwing it on the floor by mistake. It would feel like I could live my life safely again like anyone else."
NLX-112 was previously discovered and developed by French pharma company, Pierre Fabre Médicament, as a potential treatment for pain. After reaching phase 2 clinical trials, it was out-licensed to Neurolixis, which identified an opportunity to re-purpose the drug for the treatment of levodopa-induced dyskinesia.
Dr Arthur Roach, Director of Research and Development at Parkinson's UK, said:
"Because this drug has already reached phase 2 clinical trials in the past, we already know a lot about its safety. This means that, should this last stage of pre-clinical trials go well, we do not have to spend time on some of the normal steps in the development of a new treatment and it can progress directly to phase 2 clinical trials. If it succeeds in these trials, we could be seeing a new treatment for people with Parkinson's within as little as 5 years."
Dr Mark Varney, Co-founder, President and Chief Executive Officer at Neurolixis, said:
"We greatly appreciate Parkinson's UK supporting this program. This grant will now enable us to move the NLX-112 program through the necessary regulatory steps in preparation for clinical trials in Parkinson’s patients."
This project is the second to be funded by Parkinson's UK's Virtual Biotech initiative. Launched last year to combat lost opportunities in drug discovery and early clinical development, the Virtual Biotech allows the charity to work with a range of other organisations and provide critical funding to push forward promising new treatment options and develop better treatments for the condition faster.
Dr Roach continued:
"Two thirds of people with Parkinson's have told us that dyskinesia is one of the most critical issues that impacts quality of life. Using our Virtual Biotech model, we hope to be able to deliver a potential treatment that will help address this problem as quickly as possible."
For more information please contact:
Kirsty Callingham, Senior Media and PR Officer, Parkinson's UK
- 020 7932 9311
- Out of hours: 07961 460248
Every hour, 2 people in the UK are told they have Parkinson's.
145,000 people are diagnosed with the condition – that's around 1 adult in every 350.
Parkinson's is a degenerative neurological condition, for which there currently is no cure. The main symptoms of the condition are tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity.
Parkinson's UK is the UK's leading charity supporting those with the condition. Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's through cutting edge research, information, support and campaigning.
For advice, information and support call our free, confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303.
Neurolixis, located in Dana Point, California, is a privately held biotechnology company developing therapies for disorders of the central nervous system. The Company has two clinical programs: NLX-112 is a Phase 2-ready program targeting LID, and NLX-101 is a Phase 1 drug candidate targeting Rett syndrome. Additional discovery programs are targeting psychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. Further information is available at www.neurolixis.com.