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August 30, 2016

Parkinson’s Researcher Says Feud With Fox Fund Delays Drug Trial

A clinical trial for a promising new treatment for Parkinson’s disease is in limbo amid a dispute between Georgetown University researchers and the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the most prominent Parkinson’s charity, Stat reports. The episode highlights tensions between scientists and major medical nonprofits, which are taking a more active role in financing and coordinating drug research that can bring significant financial and reputational rewards to scientists and academic institutions, according to the health-news website.

Nilotinib, a cancer drug, showed signs of relieving some Parkinson’s symptoms in limited preliminary testing by researcher Charbel Moussa and colleagues at Georgetown. A full trial was slated to start in October, but Dr. Moussa contends that after approaching the university about collaborating, the Fox Foundation “cut us out,” imperiling Georgetown’s prospects for getting the medicine from its maker to proceed with the study.

The charity, led by actor and Parkinson’s patient Michael J. Fox, is planning its own trial, to begin in about a year. Todd Sherer, the foundation’s chief executive, said it “acted in good faith” to try to reach an agreement with Georgetown. Stat, which reviewed scientific papers, research proposals, and correspondence, said talks broke down over disagreements about how to design the study, among other matters.