The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) has awarded two grants to AC Immune, a Swiss-based biopharmaceutical company, to support the development of molecules designed to stop the accumulation of alpha-synuclein and inhibit an inflammatory pathway in Parkinson’s disease.
AC Immune utilizes their proprietary Morphomer™ platform to create small molecules designed to bind to specific misfolded proteins, including alpha-synuclein, and prevent their aggregation and spread to other cells. One of the MJFF grants will help fund AC Immune’s discovery of these molecules, which are able to cross the blood-brain barrier and potentially stop the progression of Parkinson’s disease.
The second grant will fund research of a small molecule that acts as an inhibitor of the (NOD)-like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome pathway. Chronic inflammation can contribute to the loss of dopaminergic neurons, especially in parts of the brain most affected by Parkinson’s. Inhibiting NLRP3 has been shown to reduce inflammation and protect neurons in various models of neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
AC Immune’s portfolio also includes ACI-7104, an anti-alpha-synuclein vaccine that could be used to treat Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and other synucleinopathies.