Parkinson’s disease occurs when a subset of cells in the brain that make dopamine degenerate. Because Parkinson’s can cause tremor, slowness, rigidity, and walking and balance problems, it is called a “movement disorder,” but there are many other symptoms of the disease that slowly progress over time.
Dyskinesias are involuntary muscle movements associated with several conditions, and can develop as a consequence of medication treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Currently approved drugs for dyskinesia are limited, and act primarily through modulating dopamine release. At higher doses, these drugs can cause side effects that have prevented their widespread use.
At MapLight, we are taking a precise approach to prevention and treatment of dyskinesia. Rather than impacting broad regions of the brain, our therapeutics are designed to target a small subset of neurons in the basal ganglia that respond to dopamine and demonstrate altered patterns of activity in cases of dyskinesia. MapLight’s ML-007, currently in a Phase 1 clinical trial, is designed to offer both improved efficacy and fewer side effects than current treatment options.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation has awarded a total of $15.5M in grants to support MapLight’s pursuit of novel therapeutic targets for Parkinson’s disease patients experiencing anxiety, depression, and dyskinesia.