Parkinson's UK invests in first trial of pioneering treatment in people with Parkinson’s

We're providing £1.55m through our Virtual Biotech programme to carry out the first clinical trials to see if HER-096 is safe for people with Parkinson’s and to start exploring its potential benefits.

Parkinson's UK is joining forces with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) to fund Herantis on their first trial of an exciting new treatment called HER-096 in people with Parkinson’s.

What is HER-096?

HER-096 is a new drug that aims to protect and restore the dopamine-producing brain cells that are lost in Parkinson’s.

It has been developed based on a growth factor that is naturally produced by the brain called CDNF (Cerebral Dopamine Neurotrophic Factor). 

Research in the lab shows CDNF can help damaged dopamine cells to survive and recover.

However, CDNF is a large protein that cannot easily cross from the blood into the brain, so giving it to patients would require complex and invasive surgery. 

For this reason, Herantis Pharma has developed HER-096, a smaller drug with similar properties that can be given by a simple injection under the skin making it a less invasive approach.

What will happen in this new trial?

HER-096 has already been tested in a study with 60 healthy participants and was shown to be safe with no serious side effects. 

The investment from the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech and MJFF will enable a new study to test if regular injections of HER-096 are safe in people with Parkinson’s.

The trial is being carried out in Finland. 24 people with Parkinson’s will be given HER-096 or placebo twice a week for 4 weeks and monitored for any unwanted side effects.

Data from this study will be used to identify the best dosage to move forward into larger clinical studies.

Analysis of blood samples and fluid collected by lumbar puncture will be used to look for evidence of whether the treatment is having a positive effect on cells inside the brain.

Harnessing the power of growth factors

Arthur Roach, Virtual Biotech Director at Parkinson's UK, said:
"We’re delighted to partner with The Michael J. Fox Foundation to fund Herantis Pharma’s first trial of HER-096, an innovative new approach to treating Parkinson’s.

“We’ve previously invested heavily in the development of treatments of growth factors for Parkinson’s, most notably the pioneering trial of GDNF in Bristol, because we believe these proteins hold huge hope for protecting and even rescuing the cells that are lost during the course of Parkinson’s.

“The big challenge with growth factors is delivering them safely and effectively to the brain, so what’s really innovative about this new approach is that the team have created a molecule that may bring the benefits of a growth factor without the need for complex surgery.

“We hope this study will show that HER-096 is safe and that it has the potential to be a life-changing therapy for people with Parkinson’s in the future."