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Biomarkers & Clinical Trials in PD Research

Posted Jun 07 2010 9:33pm

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a seminar in Houston hosted by the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Baylor College of Medicine’s Parkinson’s Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic.  The seminar was about Biomarkers & Clinical Trials in Parkinson’s Disease Research.  Dr. Joseph Jankovic spoke and so did Debi Brooks, co-founder of the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

I will be posting more about this seminar in the next week.  However, the one huge fact I took away from this conference is that it’s taking FIFTEEN years (on average) for drugs to get from the Discovery Stage to Regulatory Approval by the Food and Drug Administration.  It took 15 years for Azilect to move through the stages to gain FDA approval.  It took Requip 11 years to move through the stages to gain FDA approval.

Why does it take so long?  Well, once a scientist has a Discovery and that formulation is tested, goes through Therapeutic Development and Optimization to Pre-Clinical Testing, the researcher or drug manufacturer may not have the funding to bump the formula to the final stages of Clinical Testing and Regulatory Approval.  It takes over $1billion to get a new drug to the approval stage.  No wonder the drug companies give up on trying to find therapies if they don’t seem promising in the Pre-Clinical stages where the biology is converted into potential therapies!

Instead of being disheartened about this type of news, I found it refreshing to know that the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s sole focus is to fund research for the cure for Parkinson’s Disease.  Out of each $1.00 that is donated, the MJFF spends 86 cents to fund research.  They trim their budgets to make sure that Administrative costs are slim and as much money as possible goes to fund research.  Ms. Brooks impressed me when she spoke of the commitment the MJFF has to find treatments and chaperone these treatments through the FDA approval process.  There are currently at least 250 active grants funded by the MJFF for Parkinson’s Disease research.

These folks aren’t fooling around when it comes to setting goals and reaching them.  That encourages me more than any other news I’ve read about PD research or PD trials in the last year.

If you aren’t familiar with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, go to and read about the opportunities that are available to you….a PwP to make a difference in finding a cure for our disease.

If you aren’t familiar with the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Neurology Parkinson’s Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic, go to to read about ALL movement disorders – not just Parkinson’s Disease.

Next posting:  How can I help to find a cure? (without giving away my bank account)

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