The treatment is based on a candidate vaccine known as PD01A, which lowers levels of alpha-synuclein. This is a brain protein which is believed to play an important role in maintaining a supply of synaptic vesicles in presynaptic terminals, as well as helping to regulate the release of dopamine, a type of neurotransmitter that is critical for controlling the start and stop of voluntary and involuntary movements.
"If you add all this together, I think we have the first evidence that would tell us that these findings are compatible with what we look for with disease modification," Achim Schneeberger, MD, chief medical officer of AFFiRiS, the Austrian pharmaceutical company developing the drug, told a press conference where the initial results were released.
In part, the research was funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation to the tune of $1.5 million (€1.12 million). The foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson's disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today. Its founder, Michael J. Fox, is a well-known Canadian-American actor who is a high-profile victim of the disease.