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Fox Foundation to Fund Parkinson’s Drug Candidate Studies

Illustration of brain (NIDA)

(National Institute of Drug Abuse)

Civitas Therapeutics Inc., a pharmaceutical company in Chelsea, Massachusetts, received a grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) to support the company’s lead drug candidate CVT-301. The amount of the grant to fund clinical development of the drug was not disclosed.

Parkinson’s disease occurs when the nerve cells in the brain that make dopamine, a chemical to help control muscle movement, are slowly destroyed. Without dopamine, the nerve cells in that part of the brain cannot properly send messages, which leads to the loss of muscle function that tends to worsen over time.

CVT-301 is an inhaled form of levodopa (L-dopa) currently used to treat motor fluctuation symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. L-dopa is given orally to maintain dopamine levels in the brain above a therapeutic threshold. The effectiveness of L-dopa, however, is compromised by delayed absorption and variability in the circulating plasma drug concentrations when the drug is taken orally.

Civitas says CVT-301 uses the company’s inhalation technology, called ARCUSTM, that delivers L-dopa in dry powder form deep in the lungs. This delivery method provides faster and more reliable concentrations of L-dopa, which the company says has been demonstrated in preclinical tests.

The drug is being developed as a supplement to standard oral L-dopa treatments. Clinical trials of CVT-301 are planned to begin in 2011. The grant from MJFF is expected to provide support for CVT-301 clinical studies through proof-of-concept, which is planned to be completed by the end of 2012.

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