The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's research (MJFF) has launched the Parkinson's Disease Research Tools Consortium. MJFF and seven industry partners have organized to grow the Foundation's ongoing efforts to better understand existing tools—such as preclinical models, antibodies and cell lines—and their use in laboratory experiments, as well as to develop new tools to address unmet challenges.
"Laboratory tools are the building blocks of research, and easing the burden of producing or obtaining these resources frees investigators to focus on finding the cure for Parkinson's," said Todd Sherer, Ph.D., chief executive officer of MJFF.
The consortium formalizes previously ad hoc input and feedback to MJFF from tool developers and end-users in pursuit of more robust tools for the Parkinson's research community. Initial consortium industry partners are Amicus Therapeutics, ApoPharma, Biogen Idec, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, PsychoGenics and Upsher-Smith Laboratories.
Through regular teleconferences, consortium members share ideas on how to improve and learn more about existing tools and on how to fill current gaps. After consensus on priority areas, projects are co-led by MJFF scientific and operational staff and one industry consortium member. CROs will conduct the projects to minimize intellectual property issues.
The current landscape of laboratory tool development is project-driven, a costly and time-consuming practice by which scientists create and validate tools for specific experiments. Problems with reproducibility arise from tests conducted with self-produced tools. Complicated and lengthy material transfer agreements and intellectual property issues slow the sharing of established tools.
Since 2010, the MJFF Tools Program has strived to create validated, characterized research tools and distribute them to academic and industry researchers at little to no cost through an expedited process. MJFF currently offers 260 preclinical research tools to scientists and has distributed 8,500 tools.