Regenerating neurons to treat Parkinson’s disease

Written by Freya Leask

Planned clinical trials, supported by a €6 million Horizon 2020 grant, will use a novel drug delivery system to bypass the blood-brain barrier.

A novel drug delivery system that bypasses the blood-brain barrier will be used in combination with Herantis Pharma Plc’s (Helsinki, Finland) drug candidate cerebral dopamine neurotrophic factor (CDNF) for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease in upcoming Phase I-II clinical trials. The study will be supported by a €6 million Horizon 2020 grant, an innovation from the European Union.

It is hoped that CDNF will alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease by protecting and regenerating dopaminergic neurons. These will be targeted using a drug delivery system, designed by Renishaw (Gloucestershire, UK) in partnership with leading neurosurgeons, that bypasses the blood-brain barrier by delivering drugs directly into brain tissue.

Eighteen patients will take part in the study and receive the drug via a small port implanted into the skull near the ear, allowing clinicians to deliver the drug through four tubes that will be specifically positioned in the patients’ brains. While the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be managed to some degree with current treatments, it has been traditionally difficult to address both motor and non-motor symptoms and prevent disease progression.

The clinical trials will be executed in collaboration between Renishaw and ten other partners. Paul Skinner, Operations Manager for Renishaw’s Neurological Products Division, commented: “We are very pleased to be able to contribute our engineering technology and experience to this important trial. Our drug delivery system has shown promising initial results and we look forward to working closely with Herantis and the other partners to achieve the best possible outcomes for the patients.”