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Virtual Company Is The Next Step To Create New Drugs For Parkinson's

05/06/2017 11:49 BST | Updated 05/06/2017 11:49 BST

Last month I attended the first ever board meeting of a new £1million company that's been launched to develop new treatments for Parkinson's.

It's a company that has no staff, no fixed premises and no expensive laboratory equipment, but this company marks the exciting start of a new way to fight Parkinson's - by working virtually.

The new company, Keapstone Therapeutics, combines world-leading research from the University's Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) with funding and expertise from Parkinson's UK in a partnership that is the first of its kind.

This virtual company will continue SITraN's work to develop novel molecules that have the potential create drugs that can slow, stop or even reverse the condition.

It will do this by using its funding to commission independent drug development teams - with existing laboratories of their own - to take the University's promising research forward, while using the charity's network of clinical experts to give guidance and critical feedback.

This innovative approach has never been attempted by a charity before, and marks a step change in the way that Parkinson's UK is using research and plugging the gap in funding caused by the loss of investment from big pharma.

This step change - and the creation of Keapstone Therapeutics - is part of the charity's new Parkinson's Virtual Biotech venture, which has been formed to rapidly develop and test treatments with the potential to transform life for people with Parkinson's.

This major new programme of work will allow the charity to act in a similar way to a small biotech company. However, unlike a commercial company, the primary goal will be to create new treatments to improve the lives of people with Parkinson's, regardless of financial benefit.

With management of carefully chosen research strands that show the most promise, and guidance from a team of industry and scientific experts who are volunteering their time, the Parkinson's UK Virtual Biotech will produce a portfolio of drug development projects - all at different stages of the drug discovery and early clinical development pipeline.

This new way of working will accelerate drug development for Parkinson's and attract funding partners who can carry the projects forward further on their own or in partnership with continued charity funding.

200 years since Parkinson's was first recognised as a condition, science has unlocked key discoveries that could transform lives. Now, this innovative new way of working will enable the charity to help harness these research discoveries and help find a cure in years - rather than decades.

The science is ready and, with enough funding, we will find a cure.

To find out more about the Parkinson's UK Virtual Biotech Programme, go to Parkinson's Virtual Biotech.