Bret Stetka, MD; Maurizio Facheris, MD, MSc


April 29, 2013

Editorial Collaboration

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Editor's Note:
After the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 2013 Annual Meeting, held March 16-23 in San Diego, California, Medscape spoke with Maurizio Facheris, MD, MSc, Associate Director of Research Programs at the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, on exciting new directions the understanding and management of Parkinson disease (PD).


Medscape: Thank you for speaking with us today, Dr. Facheris. What were some of your personal PD-research highlights from this year's AAN meeting, including work both affiliated and not affiliated with the Fox Foundation?

Dr. Facheris: I attend these meetings so that I don't lose my clinical perspective and clinical touch. Although I am not seeing patients anymore, I don't want to find myself saying 5 years from now, "Back in my time, we used this drug for PD," and now it's completely different.

So I went to the AAN meeting with 2 goals. One was to get clinical perspective, and the other was to hear updates on potential research initiatives. I tried to attend as many sessions as possible on PD and was, first of all, pleased to know that several of the new topics presented at the AAN are already in our portfolio.

For example, there seems to be a lot of interest in the dopamine 1 (D1) receptor and potential agonists for it. We at the Foundation supported a D1 agonist as a potential therapy for dyskinesia. Dyskinesia is still a major adverse effect of levodopa for PD, and we are very interested in that specific area; it would be great if we could provide some benefit for dyskinesia associated with dopaminergic therapies. In this area, Addex Therapeutics (Geneva, Switzerland) presented their results[1] on dipraglurant, which is now moving toward phase 2b. Dipraglurant is a drug that targets glutamate receptors -- in this case, mGluR5.

I am also very excited about a technology using active transporters in the gastrointestinal tract to increase drug absorption that was developed by XenoPort (Santa Clara, California).[2] Levodopa is absorbed only in specific parts of the intestine, such as the duodenum. If a pill is ingested but is delayed in the stomach or doesn't release enough drug, then absorption of the drug is reduced.

XenoPort developed an active transporter drug-delivery technology. Any drug can be combined with a specific receptor on the transporter protein, which then moves the drug through the gastrointestinal tract and enhances its absorption.

This technology is already used for other drugs, and we would like to interact with the company more to find out what we can do to support this technology and move its clinical development forward.