Charles River Laboratories and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research have extended their collaboration, including grants to support work in protein phenotyping and the evaluation of small molecule inhibitors.
A new two-year project will focus on developing a baseline phenotype of alpha-synuclein knock-out and knock-in models, with the hope of creating a tool to assist drug discovery programs. Alpha-synuclein proteins form a major part of the clumps in the brain that are the hallmark of Parkinson’s disease, according to the foundation.
Charles River and MJFF have also renewed their ongoing efforts to test inhibitors of the LRRK2 enzyme, which has been genetically linked to development of the disease. The project hopes to determine optimal dosing while avoiding the lung toxicity reported in previous research.
Charles River and the foundation have collaborated on Parkinson’s disease research since 2011, and re-upped their relationship in late 2015.
The CRO, meanwhile, has been building out its capabilities in central nervous system research and drug discovery, through a series of acquisitions.
In August 2017, Charles River purchased the CNS-focused CRO Brains On-Line for about $21 million, which had offered preclinical services, pharmacokinetics analysis, microdialysis and in vivo efficacy testing of drugs in the brain, with operations in San Francisco, the Netherlands and Germany.
And earlier this year, Charles River acquired MPI Research for $800 million in cash.
The company said the early-stage drug development CRO will help expand its existing services in toxicology, including ophthalmology, juvenile toxicity, molecular biology and medical device testing, in addition to use of MPI’s 1 million-square-foot facility in Michigan.