INDIANAPOLIS and MINNEAPOLIS, April 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY ) and Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE: MDT ) today announced they have entered into a collaboration to research and develop a new approach to treating Parkinson's disease that involves delivering a potential new medicine to the brain using an implantable drug delivery system. The goal of the collaboration is to develop a therapeutic approach for Parkinson's disease that combines the strengths of Lilly's biologic, a modified form of glial cell derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), with Medtronic's implantable drug infusion system technology.
"We believe we have biosynthetically engineered this GDNF variant to overcome technical hurdles of previous research in this area and are hopeful that early testing of our biologic with Medtronic's device will provide the necessary data to safely advance into human studies," said Michael L. Hutton, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of the neurodegeneration team at Lilly. "By collaborating with Medtronic from the earliest phase of research, we are maximizing the potential for this therapy's efficient and effective development."
Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative condition caused by progressive loss of neurons in the brain that produce dopamine, a chemical messenger responsible for transmitting signals that allow for coordination of movement. As a result, patients with Parkinson's disease experience balance problems, tremors and muscular stiffness, among other symptoms which worsen over time. It is estimated that 7 million to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson's disease(i) and there is no cure. Around the world, April is Parkinson's Awareness Month.
Applying its expertise in biotechnology, Lilly has designed its GDNF variant with th