Newswise — Rush Medical College will be a part of a major undertaking by the Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s (ASAP) initiative, leading one of 21 teams receiving critical and significant funding in hopes of making major advances in the fight against Parkinson’s disease.

In the $8 million, three-year study involving co-collaborators Dr. Ashley Harms from the University of Alabama and Dr. Warren Hirst from Biogen Inc., Rush researchers will work to identify whether alpha-synuclein, tau and beta-amyloid pathologies drive disease progression in mice and monkeys and use antibodies and anti-inflammatories to reverse the critical co-pathologies  

“We will test the hypothesis that the induction of co-pathologies in mouse and nonhuman primate models of Parkinson’s disease will provide more construct and face validity in the context of human disease, and thus be a superior model for the evaluation of future novel therapies,” said Jeffrey Kordower, PhD, Alla V. and Solomon Jesmer Professor of Aging and Neurological Sciences at Rush Medical College and coordinating lead investigator.

“The failure to having discovered disease-modifying treatments for Parkinson’s may in large part be due to the failure to create relevant animal models to test novel therapeutic strategies,” said Kordower. “Clearly single pathology models do not reflect the multiple pathologies seen in PD.”

Rush researchers will share their work with the other 20 funded teams through a unique platform that will foster data sharing and transparency between projects, significantly advancing work that Rush and others have been doing — now together in a new way.

“This is real funding to make big progress,” said Kordower, noting the strength of the initiative. “Everyone will be able to see what everyone else is doing, which will help overcome challenges, foster collaboration and advance progress more quickly.”

In addition, Vineet Gupta, PhD, vice chair for Research in the Rush Medical College Department of Internal Medicine and director of the Drug Discovery Center, and Alan Landay, PhD, vice chair for Innovation in the Rush Medical College Department of Internal Medicine, will provide consultation and collaboration on the project.

The ASAP initiative is working with its implementation partner The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to issue the grant.