Global charities join forces to drive forward new drug for Parkinson’s

Leading charities have provided biopharma company Neurolixis joint funding to test a new drug to reduce dyskinesia in people with Parkinson’s.

New drug holds potential to reduce dyskinesia, a common side effect of current Parkinson’s medications.

Leading charities Parkinson’s UK and The Michael J. Fox Foundation have joined forces to fund a £1.5m ($2m) phase 2 clinical trial investigating the effects of a new drug called NLX-112 with biopharmaceutical company Neurolixis. This drug has shown potential in the lab for reducing dyskinesia, which is a common side effect of current Parkinson’s medications.

Dyskinesia causes involuntary movements that can affect various parts of the body, making simple, everyday tasks, like tying your shoelaces or making a cup of tea, difficult.

This trial builds on previous research supported by the 2 charities, which enabled Neurolixis to develop NLX-112 and complete the final lab testing. The new study, led by a team at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, will now test this promising drug in people with Parkinson’s for the very first time.

The study will assess whether NLX-112 is safe and well-tolerated by people with Parkinson who experience dyskinesia. The study will also investigate whether NLX-112 can reduce dyskinesia as well as some non-motor symptoms, such as depressed mood and disturbed sleep.

Dyskinesia is a common side effect experienced by people with Parkinson’s who have been taking levodopa-based medications, a standard treatment for Parkinson’s, for several years. Between 40% and 50% of people with Parkinson’s will experience dyskinesia after just 5 years of taking levodopa. After 10 years of taking the medication, this figure jumps to up to 80%. The main medication available to manage dyskinesia is amantadine, which can have challenging side effects and does not work for everyone. 

NLX-112 works by targeting serotonin producing brain cells. These cells are believed to contribute to the development of dyskinesia by converting levodopa, the main drug taken for Parkinson’s, into dopamine and releasing it in an erratic manner. NLX-112 stabilises the amount of dopamine these serotonin cells release.

Dr Arthur Roach, Director of Research at Parkinson’s UK, said:

"We’re delighted to be joining forces with The Michael J. Fox Foundation to drive forward a potentially life-changing new treatment for people with Parkinson’s. We’re providing funding for this important study through our pioneering Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech which is working with partners worldwide to accelerate better treatments and a cure."

Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation, said:

"Levodopa-induced dyskinesia can significantly impact quality of life for people with Parkinson’s. This collaboration with Parkinson’s UK is about combining our resources to advance this promising therapeutic approach from Neurolixis as quickly as we can to benefit the patients and families worldwide who navigate dyskinesia in their daily lives."

Michael Gibson, 39, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was 18 years old. He experiences dyskinesia on a regular basis. Michael said:

"Dyskinesia is absolutely the worst part of having Parkinson’s for me. I’m naturally a very sociable, outgoing person, but it’s a huge knock to my self-confidence when I’m out with my kids and people stare or make awful remarks. I’ve been told, ‘you’re a disgrace’ because the sudden movements make people think I’m drunk.

"It’s an awful feeling and a constant reminder of my condition- sometimes I don’t want to think about Parkinson’s, sometimes I just want to be me. But dyskinesia stops me from doing that."

Adrian Newman-Tancredi, PhD, DSc, CEO of Neurolixis commented:

"We are excited to move to a proof-of-concept trial with NLX-112. The compound has a novel mechanism of action which has been extensively validated in laboratory tests. If the positive effects seen in the lab translate into a clinical setting, NLX-112 could significantly improve the quality of life of many people with Parkinson’s for whom dyskinesia impairs their quality of life." 

ENDS

Media enquiries

For more information please contact: 

Molly Horsburgh, Senior Media and PR Officer on 020 7963 9351 or email [email protected] or [email protected].
Out of hours: 07961 460248

Allison Boiles, The Michael J. Fox Foundation
[email protected] 
1 212 509 0995

About Parkinson’s and Parkinson’s UK 
Parkinson’s is what happens when the brain cells that make dopamine start to die. There are more than 40 symptoms, from tremor and pain to anxiety. Some are treatable, but the drugs can have serious side effects. It gets worse over time and there’s no cure. Yet.
Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. Around 145,000 people in the UK have Parkinson’s.
For more facts and statistics, please click here.
Further information, advice and support is available on our website, www.parkinsons.org.uk.

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 $900m 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.
For more information, visit https://michaeljfox.org.

About Neurolixis
Neurolixis is an early-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel drugs for the treatment of human central nervous system disorders including Parkinson's disease, Rett syndrome, depression and pain. Neurolixis is developing a platform of early-stage drug candidates targeting serious CNS diseases with unmet medical needs and sizeable market opportunity. Compounds are based on the concept of serotonin 5-HT1A receptor "biased agonism" which enables drugs to more precisely target specific brain regions controlling CNS disorders.