NEW YORK — French drugmaker Sanofi said on Wednesday that it will provide $1 million in research funding to the Parkinson's Foundation to support a genetic testing initiative for Parkinson's disease patients.
In mid-2019, the Parkinson's Foundation launched PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson's Disease, a project that is analyzing potential biomarkers of the neurodegenerative disease in order to improve clinical care and advance new treatment options.
The money from Sanofi, which will be provided over the next two years, will be used to increase the availability of genetic testing and counseling to Parkinson's disease patients in the US. The company has a small molecule drug called venglustat under Phase II development for Parkinson's disease in patients with a specific genetic mutation.
"Genetic testing is critical for advancing understanding of the biology behind Parkinson's disease and increasing patient access to clinical trials targeting specific genetic mutations, with the hope of slowing disease progression," Erik Wallstroem, therapeutic area head in Sanofi's neurology development unit, said in a statement. "The PD GENEration study is an exciting platform to facilitate this, and it's already demonstrating early success."
Earlier this year, the Parkinson's Foundation released interim data from a PD GENEration pilot study showing that 52 of the 291 Parkinson's disease patients who had been tested carried a genetic mutation linked to their disease, including extremely rare mutations. Additionally, some patients were found to harbor multiple disease-linked mutations.
The Parkinson's Foundation said it aims to enroll 15,000 participants in the program by the end of this year.
In July 2019, the Parkinson's Foundation partnered with Fulgent Genetics to run next-generation sequencing panels targeting seven Parkinson's disease-associated genes on PD GENEration samples. Later that year, the nonprofit added five new testing and counseling sites for the project. The Parkinson's Foundation also receives support for the PD GENEration program from Biogen.