Envoy awarded Michael J Fox Foundation grant to develop improved oral treatment for Parkinson’s disease


Envoy Therapeutics announced that it has been awarded a grant from The Michael J Fox Foundation (MJFF) to develop compounds targeting a motor circuit compromised in Parkinson’s disease via modulation of a receptor recently identified by Envoy. Validation of the functional role of this biological target could pave the way for the development of compounds suitable for clinical development and ultimately lead to improved treatment options for Parkinson’s disease patients.

The objective of the MJFF-funded project is to ultimately develop an oral therapeutic that provides the symptomatic benefit of dopamine replacement therapy but with sustained efficacy and with minimal acute and long-term side effects. The therapeutic benefit of dopamine precursor L-DOPA (the current gold standard in treating Parkinson’s disease) is hampered by serious side effects, including dyskinesias, compulsive behaviors and somnolence. Envoy Therapeutics’ bacTRAP target discovery technology enables the identification of new drug targets selectively expressed in brain circuits of therapeutic interest, thereby minimising activity in circuits that may trigger unwanted side effects. Envoy has identified novel small molecule compounds that selectively engage the target of interest. These compounds will be optimised for potency, pharmacokinetic properties and central nervous system penetration. Lead compounds will then be used to validate the target hypothesis.

“Levodopa is still the standard of care for people with Parkinson’s, but the side effects of levodopa treatment remain one of the most challenging aspects of living day to day with the disease. For this reason, developing improved symptomatic treatments that limit dyskinesia is a priority for MJFF,” said Todd Sherer, chief executive officer of MJFF. “We are enthusiastic about partnering with Envoy to further develop the compounds they have identified and hope that this promising avenue will lead to improved treatment for patients.”

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with the team at The Michael J Fox Foundation on this programme that makes full use of our powerful bacTRAP technology to identify highly selective targets and leverages our central nervous system drug discovery expertise,” added Steve Hitchcock, senior vice-president of Drug Discovery at Envoy. “Modulation of this novel and highly selective target, we anticipate will provide symptomatic relief but with greatly reduced side effects. We hope that this then leads to improved treatment options available to people living with Parkinson’s disease.”