Parkinson’s UK commit further funding to develop drugs that protect mitochondria

We’re investing a further £1 million to drive forward drugs that target energy-producing mitochondria to slow the loss of brain cells in Parkinson's.

As part of our Virtual Biotech, we’ve partnered with NRG Therapeutics Ltd to create drugs that can enter the brain and rescue mitochondria – the batteries that power brain cells.

In the first year of this project we’ve made great progress towards creating new, small molecules that can enter the brain and protect mitochondria. Now, we’re investing further to take these molecules forwards with the goal of developing a new treatment that can protect brain cells and slow the progression of Parkinson's.

We are aiming to invest at least a further £20million in our Virtual Biotech to deliver a life-changing new treatment to people with Parkinson’s by the end of 2024.

Why target mitochondria?

Brain cells need lots of energy to function properly. However, we know that mitochondria inside dopamine-producing brain cells affected in Parkinson’s stop working properly. 

These faulty mitochondria cannot produce enough energy and leak toxic chemicals, causing serious damage that contributes to cell death.

A treatment that can rescue mitochondria would hold huge hope for slowing or stopping Parkinson’s - something no current treatment can do.

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

"It’s extremely encouraging to see the progress we’ve made in the first year of work with NRG Therapeutics Ltd., which is why we’re pleased to be able to invest in this project further. 

“In this crucial next phase of the project, we aim to improve the ability of these molecules to enter the brain and to investigate their effects in brain cells in the lab. This will take us one step closer to developing a drug that could go forward to be tested in people with Parkinson’s.

“Despite the current challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve relentlessly persisted with  many research projects, like this one, aimed at creating life-changing treatments. With 145,000 people living with Parkinson’s in the UK and the charity on the brink of so many potential breakthroughs, we cannot afford to slow down now.”

Accelerate the next breakthrough

On the brink of so many potential breakthroughs, we cannot afford to slow down now: we need donations to ensure Parkinson’s research keeps driving towards better treatments.

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