Fox Foundation expands clinical trial platform to cover atypical parkinsonisms

The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) has expanded its clinical trial matching platform to include patients with atypical parkinsonism. MJFF is aiming to accelerate enrollment in clinical trials of drugs to treat atypical parkinsonism, an umbrella term for conditions with similar symptoms to Parkinson’s disease but different causes.

Patients with atypical parkinsonisms, such as progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and dementia with Lewy bodies, often respond poorly to dopaminergic treatments, a fact that contributes to poor prognoses compared to people with the common form of the condition. MJFF wants to address the imbalance in therapeutic options--and potentially uncover insights into the biology of Parkinson’s--by using its Fox Trial Finder to facilitate enrollment into atypical parkinsonism clinical trials.

The platform is designed to connect patients with parkinsonisms to clinical trial sponsors, resulting in more people gaining access to experimental therapies and drugs taking less time to pass through the clinic. Patients provide information on where they live, their medical history and, now, the form of parkinsonism that they have. The system then alerts the registered patient when potentially-suitable clinical trials start, and provides them with a messaging tool to contact study teams.

With MJFF claiming 57,000 potential trial participants have signed up to Fox Trial Finder since it went live in 2011, the addition of atypical parkinsonism as an option when registering could create a pool of thousands of people with a form of the condition who are interested in joining studies. Atypical forms of the disease are thought to account for 15-20% of all cases of parkinsonism, although, as the causes of individuals’ conditions may differ, they cannot be treated as a homogeneous population.

The upshot is that, from a drug development perspective, atypical parkinsonism is a cluster of rare diseases, the causes of which may or may not be linked. There are relatively few clinical trials aimed at these patients. PSP, one of the more common forms of atypical parkinsonism, is the focus of 29 active studies on, but only a proportion of these trials are testing experimental treatments.

Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) is on the short list of drugmakers active in the field. BMS-986168, an anti-eTau biologic Bristol-Myers acquired in its 2014 takeover of iPierian, is being tested in a Phase I multiple ascending dose study. If the expansion of Fox Trial Finder into atypical parkinsonism goes as planned, such studies will soon have access to a readymade pool of potential participants.

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