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Michael J Fox Foundation awards $4.9m grant to Muna Therapeutics

The grant will support the development of the company’s disease modifying therapy for Parkinson's disease

The Michael J Fox Foundation

The Michael J Fox Foundation (MJFF) has awarded a $4.9m grant to Muna Therapeutics, a biopharma discovering and developing novel therapeutics for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other neurodegenerative disorders.

The grant will be used to support ongoing preclinical research and development of novel, brain-exposed, small molecule potassium channel type 1.3 (Kv1.3) blockers to abrogate neuroinflammation driven by disease-associated microglia and enhance neuroprotection as a disease-modifying therapy for patients with PD.

"Kv1.3 plays an important role in creating and maintaining neuroinflammation in Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases. Reducing neuroinflammation by blocking Kv1.3 has tremendous potential to slow or prevent neurodegeneration and disease progression,” explained Rita Balice-Gordon, chief executive officer of Muna Therapeutics.

PD is a progressive and chronic neurological disorder resulting from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells that primarily manifests itself with tremors, muscle rigidity, slowness of movement and balance difficulty. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, more than 10 million people worldwide are living with the disease.

Commenting on the ambitions of the study, Niels Plath, chief scientific officer of Muna Therapeutics, said: "The studies will support ongoing medicinal chemistry and structural biology efforts as well as extend understanding of the mechanism of Kv1.3 in microglial activation and the role of Kv1.3 blockade, in vitro in human cells and in vivo in humanised mouse models, to achieve the normalisation of disease-associated microglial phenotypes, which will enhance neuroprotection.”

Healthcare technology company Koneksa was also awarded a grant by the MJFF in August this year to evaluate whether digital biomarkers can be used to predict the different stages of PD.

The company said the grant would be used to apply artificial intelligence algorithms retrospectively to a dataset collected from Parkinson’s patients. The measures, including activity, gait and sleep, are collected using a Verily watch, which is a sensor-based wearable device for non-invasive, continuous monitoring.

Koneksa said at the time that it will use the data from the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, an observational study sponsored by the MJFF comprising clinical, imaging, biological and digital sensor data to enable research into new therapies.

Article by
Emily Kimber

12th October 2022

From: Research, Healthcare

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