Parkinson’s Disease Affects 1 Million Americans. Meet the Companies Working on a Treatment.

When CBS re-aired its interview with Michael J. Fox, a beloved actor and advocate for Parkinson’s disease research over the weekend, Google searches relating to Parkinson’s disease skyrocketed. The disease is not as prevalent as its better-known counterpart, Alzheimer’s disease, but is no less devastating to patients and their families. Parkinson’s disease affects more than 1 million people in North America and more than 4 million people worldwide.

Like other neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, Parkinson’s disease research has been immensely challenging for biotechs, with a high rate of late-stage attrition in trials leading to a lack of disease-modifying therapies being approved.

Over the last 60 years, the standard of care for Parkinson’s treatment has been levodopa, a drug that helps replace the depleted dopamine. However, while it was a wonder drug when it was introduced, levodopa has several shortcomings and typically lasts only about four hours, so it wears off overnight while the patient sleeps.

While recent decades have been unfruitful for Parkinson’s disease research, the next 10 to 20 years promise to be exciting as new treatments that significantly improve patient’s quality of life are introduced.  We investigated the latest updates from four biotech firms with drug candidates for Parkinson’s currently in clinical trials:

Anavex Life Sciences (AVXL) is developing blarcamesine, which targets Parkinson’s disease dementia. The drug candidate aims to improve behavior and normalize biochemical changes by increasing sigma-1 receptor expression, preventing toxic mRNA from being translated into proteins. The sigma-1 receptor is a protein related to neuroinflammation and tasked with brain functions like memory, while mRNA is genetic material that tells the body how to make proteins. Anavex released an update on its Phase 2 clinical trial for Parkinson’s disease dementia at the end of March and is initiating its ANAVEX®2-73 pivotal clinical trial and ANAVEX®2-73 imaging-focused clinical trial.

Cerevel Therapeutics (CERE) is a key player in the Parkinson’s disease pipeline space. The company is working on the development of novel emerging therapies for Parkinson’s disease treatment. Cerevel’s therapeutic, Tavapadon, has the potential to be a first-in-class D1/D5 selective partial agonist for Parkinson’s disease, as both monotherapy and adjunctive treatment. Data is expected in 2024 for the company’s three clinical trials in Parkinson’s disease.

Biogen (BIIB) has been at the forefront of neuroscience research and drug development for neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s disease. The company has a diverse pipeline of therapies for neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, aiming to address the unmet medical needs in this field. Biogen has two drug candidates for Parkinson’s disease in Phase 2 clinical trials: BIIB124 to address essential tremor and BIIB122 that may potentially slow disease progression.

Inhibikase Therapeutics (IKT) is another significant player in the Parkinson’s disease pipeline. The company’s lead product candidate, IkT-148009, is a potent, selective small-molecule medication designed and engineered as chronically administered, once-daily oral medication targeting the underlying biological mechanism resulting in Parkinson’s disease, with the goal of halting disease progression and reversing functional loss. The company expects clinical development to continue through 2024.


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Parkinson’s Disease Affects 1 Million Americans. Meet the Companies Working on a Treatment.

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