ARTICLE | Cover Story

Kinase race in PD

September 2, 2010 7:00 AM UTC

It's not every day that academic drug discovery outpaces a company, but a team at The Johns Hopkins Universitythinks it has done just that by providing the first in vivoproof of concept that pharmacological inhibition of leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 is neuroprotective in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease. The molecules are being optioned by an undisclosed company, which would find itself in a three-horse race with two biotechs that have preclinical programs targeting the kinase in PD: Zenobia Therapeutics Inc.and TauTaTis Inc.

Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) became a suspect in PD in 2005 when independent teams identified mutations in the protein in patients with a dominantly inherited form of the disease. Subsequent work showed that about 5% of PD patients harbor mutations that increase the enzyme's activity, but a lack of good animal models made it hard to test whether inactivating LRRK2 would actually have a disease-modifying effect...