Silverstein Foundation Initiatives
Since our formation in March, 2017, we have made thirteen research grants – with an additional 20 grants being made through a partnership (see below for more information) – and established important collaborative relationships within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The strength of our cumulative research program stems from our multi-faceted strategy, funding grants in a wide variety of approaches including:
- Antisense oligonucleotides
- Gene therapy
- Alpha synuclein degraders
- Glucocerebrosidase activators
- Substrate reduction therapy
- Autologous induced pluripotent stem cells
We are hopeful that we will have at least two drugs in human clinical trials in 2019, with more to come in future years. Perhaps the Foundation’s most significant accomplishment to date is the launch of Prevail Therapeutics, a new gene-therapy company focused on developing novel biologic therapies for Parkinson’s Disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Founded in July 2017, Prevail successfully raised $75 million from new and existing investors, and is moving rapidly toward entering human clinical trails.
- A grant was made to Dr. Jeanne Loring at Aspen Neuroscience in support of her work in the use of “living cells”, patient-specific cells from induced pluripotent stem cells to treat disease. In addition to her work in idiopathic Parkinson’s, she will also use this grant to focus on Parkinson’s with GBA.
- E-scape Bio, a new grantee in 2019, will enter the clinic this year with an S1P5 substrate reduction therapy. E-Scape Bio will pursue a two-pronged approach to demonstrate the effects of S1P5 receptor activation in GBA-Associated Parkinson’s disease using small molecule agonists.
- A grant was made to Q–State Biosciences, a global leader in antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) research to design ASOs that prevent production of toxic proteins or rescue expression of a protein to yield a beneficial effect.
- Our joint workshop with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) in March was a huge success and led to an exciting partnership between MJFF and The Silverstein Foundation – a joint RFA making more than $3 million in research funding available to expand the understanding of the GBA gene in Parkinson’s Disease and to accelerate novel therapeutic development. The program aims to advance understanding of the pathophysiological cellular mechanisms triggered by GBA1 mutations, and to promote the development and testing of novel therapeutic approaches. We are delighted to report that an astonishing 92 proposals were received from around the globe, and we will be funding up to 20 of these. Please click the link below for more details.
- A grant was made to Dr. Craig Crews in the Crews Laboratory at Yale University. Protein aggregation has long been known to be a hallmark of Parkinson’s Disease. In particular, some forms of the alpha-synuclein protein associate into insoluble protein aggregates and correlate with PD. The Crews Lab is exploring new technologies to engage the normal cellular quality control machinery to recognize and dispose of aggregated alpha-synuclein protein. The ultimate goal is to demonstrate that pharmaceutical clearance of these disease-associated aggregates can halt PD progression.
- A grant was made to Arvinas, a biotech company in Connecticut whose technology will focus on degrading toxic intracellular targets found in Parkinson’s Disease.
- A grant was made to resTORbio, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company working to target the selective inhibition of TORC1. RTB101, resTORbio’s lead drug candidate, is a selective, orally administered, TORC1 inhibitor currently being tested in a Phase 2b clinical trial as a first in-class immunotherapy for reducing the incidence of respiratory tract infections in the elderly. The Silverstein Foundation believes there is therapeutic potential for RTB101 in neurodegenerative diseases. In January 2018, the company raised $98 million in its initial public offering on the NASDAQ.
- A grant was made to Dr. Dimitri Krainc, Chairman of Neurology at Northwestern University. Dr. Krainc is a global thought leader in GBA-Parkinson’s Disease biology and is the scientific founder of Lysosomal Therapeutics. The Foundation is funding the development of next-generation glucocerebrosidase activators at Northwestern, and has an exclusive option to jointly start a company to bring these drugs to market.
- Two grants were made to Alector, a Calfornia-based biotechnology company developing novel immuno-neurology therapies. Our grants will support animal work, testing these therapies in Parkinson’s Disease models.
- A grant was made to Columbia University which was directed specifically to GBA-related research.
- A grant was made to Columbia University which was directed specifically to GBA-focused bioinformatics in search of new targets for our research.
- Prevail Therapeutics was launched by The Silverstein Foundation, Dr. Asa Abeliovich, REGENXBIO and OrbiMed. The company is focused on developing novel biologic therapies for Parkinson’s Disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Prevail entered an exclusive worldwide license agreement with REGENXBIO to develop and commercialize certain gene therapy products using REGENXBIO’s proprietary gene therapy technology, NAV AAV vectors.
- A grant was made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research directed specifically to GBA-related research.
- A grant was made to the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center in San Francisco to allow then Executive Director, Dr. Carrolee Barlow and her team to complete a study of the clinical manifestations of genetic (GBA, LRRK2, etc.) as compared to sporadic Parkinsons, specifically as it relates to neurons in the GI tract. Data from this study can be used by pharmaceutical companies to design and quickly advance novel clinical models.