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Lilly and Medtronic to work on Parkinson's

Collaboration combines companies' expertise in neuroscience and targeted drug delivery to develop a new approach to treat Parkinson's disease

Eli Lilly and Medtronic have entered into a collaboration to research and develop a new approach to treating Parkinson's disease (PD) that involves delivering a potential new medicine to the brain using an implantable drug delivery system.

The goal is to develop a therapeutic approach for PD that combines the strengths of Lilly's biologic, a modified form of glial cell derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), with Medtronic's implantable drug infusion system technology.

Dr Michael L Hutton, chief scientific officer of the neurodegeneration team at Lilly, said: "We believe we have biosynthetically engineered this GDNF variant to overcome technical hurdles of previous research in this area and are hopeful that early testing of our biologic with Medtronic's device will provide the necessary data to safely advance into human studies. By collaborating with Medtronic from the earliest phase of research, we are maximising the potential for this therapy's efficient and effective development."

PD is a neurodegenerative condition caused by progressive loss of neurons in the brain that produce dopamine, a chemical messenger responsible for transmitting signals that allow for coordination of movement.

As a result, patients with PD experience balance problems, tremors and muscular stiffness, among other symptoms which worsen over time. It is estimated that between seven and 10 million people worldwide are living with PD, for which there is no cure.

Lilly's GDNF variant aims to achieve increased distribution in targeted brain regions. Medtronic has developed a drug pump and specially designed catheter to enable precise delivery of the GDNF variant into a targeted area of the brain consistently over time. This combination has the potential to impact the neurodegeneration that leads to worsening symptoms and progression of PD.

"Our collaboration with Lilly is bringing together the expertise of both companies to develop a new approach to the treatment of Parkinson's disease," said Dr Steve Oesterle, senior vice president of Medicine and Technology at Medtronic.

"One of the most significant challenges in delivering a biologic treatment for neurodegenerative diseases is crossing the blood brain barrier. We have extensive experience in targeted drug delivery and technology that allow delivery of therapeutic agents directly to the brain."

27th April 2011

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