Kalamazoo Firm Has Hopes for New Drug to Treat Parkinson’s

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Metabolic Solutions Development Co., a drug discovery and development operation in Kalamazoo, announced Thursday it is preparing for the start of clinical trials regarding a drug that may aid in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder. The trials could begin in late 2014.

Called MSDC-0160, the investigational drug is an insulin sensitizer that first entered clinical trials for diabetes in 2007. New data, which now suggests that it may prevent damage and death of the brain’s nerve cells that control movement, balance, and walking, was presented at a symposium held this week in Grand Rapids.

“Current treatments available to Parkinson’s patients merely lessen the effects of the symptoms of the disease — and only for a relatively limited period of time,” says Stephen Benoit, CEO of MSDC. “There are currently no treatments that halt or slow the progression of the disease.”

Benoit says that study sites will most likely be located in multiple locations in the United States. MSDC’s current clinical development team will manage the trials, while working with an independent clinical research organization.

The company — which has collaborated with Dr. Patrik Brundin, director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Science at the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids— is also investigating the drug’s potential treatment to alleviate dyskinesia.

“(Dyskinesia) describes the involuntary, uncontrollable, and often excessive movements frequently associated with Parkinson’s disease,” Benoit says. “It is a side effect of the most commonly administered drug to treat Parkinson’s symptoms (Levodopa is also called L-dopa).”

In early 2013, MSDC, working with Brudin, received a grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to fund new research into the potential for MSDC-0160 to serve as a treatment for L-dopa induced dyskinesia. Results of the research are expected to be available by the end of the year.

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