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April 24, 2017

QBRI Team Selected for Parkinson’s Clinical Trials


A research team headed by Dr. Omar El-Agnaf, Acting Executive Director of Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI), which is one of Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) three national research institutes, has been selected by the Austrian biotechnology company, AFFiRiS AG, to evaluate selected parameters in clinical trials on an innovative anti-alpha-synuclein immunotherapy-based approach to treating Parkinson’s disease that has been developed by the company.
Research carried out by Dr. El-Agnaf’s team of scientists that uses novel techniques to identify biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease in human blood and cerebral spinal fluid samples attracted the attention of AFFiRiS AG, who are a leading name in the field of developing immunotherapies that target chronic diseases with unmet medical needs, and led them to call upon the Qatar-based team to use the tools and expertise developed at HBKU to validate the target engagement of alpha-synuclein for the company’s first-of-its-kind Parkinson’s disease immunotherapy approach . The product has been developed in Europe by a team of scientists and its pre-clinical and clinical development has been supported by Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Using the team’s novel analysis techniques, the researchers at HBKU will assess the product’s ability to engage with the target, alpha-synuclein. QBRI’s scientists will explore novel biomarkers discovered by them that facilitate early diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease and use the technique they have developed at HBKU to assess themagnitude of target engagement of this new immunotherapy-based compound.

Commenting on his team’s involvement with AFFiRiS AG, Dr. El-Agnaf said: “Parkinson’s disease remains a debilitating medical condition for which there is currently no cure. Treatments that help patients with Parkinson’s typically work with those individuals who were diagnosed with the disease when it is still in early stages. Despite good symptomatic treatment options, there is a substantial need for disease modifying agents and alternatives to the existing treatment options. With so many people affected by Parkinson’s disease around the world, QBRI is committed to collaborative research with dedicated partners from around the world, such as AFFiRiS AG and others working across Europe on contributing to better understanding of the mode of action, with a view to helping achieve the next landmark in Parkinson’s disease cure.

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