Michael J. Fox Foundation updates imaging competition

By AuntMinnie.com staff writers

March 28, 2023 -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) has named Merck as the winner of its Ken Griffin Alpha-synuclein Imaging Competition.

Launched in 2019 by MJFF with $10 million in funding from Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin, the competition was designed to spur a scientific race to develop an imaging tracer for the alpha-synuclein protein in the living brains of people with Parkinson's disease, according to the foundation. Prior to the competition, the MJFF has invested $36 million over 13 years to fund research to create a tracer for alpha-synuclein in order to accelerate the development of new therapies, improve diagnosis, and monitor progression for Parkinson's disease.

As the winner of the competition, Merck has now been awarded $1.5 million to continue their research. A first-in-human clinical trial of its alpha-synuclein PET tracer is set to begin this year, according to the MJFF.

The foundation also noted that the other two finalists -- Mass General Brigham and AC Immune -- have also developed tracers that will undergo further testing and human trials. For its part, AC Immune continues to develop its alpha-synuclein tracer for Parkinson's; its tracer was the first to successfully visualize alpha-synuclein in living human patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA), which is a related type of parkinsonism, the MJFF said. The company is now advancing its tracer for MSA, as well as several second-generation alpha-synuclein tracers.

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