Promising Roche Parkinson's med causes lung toxicity in monkey trials
- For the last 10 years, researchers at Roche and elsewhere have pinned hope on LRRK2 inhibitors as a possible breakthrough for treating some Parkinson's disease (PD) patients, but preclinical testing in monkeys showed serious lung toxicities.
- In 2008, co-founder of Google, Sergei Brin, disclosed that he had an LRRK2 gene mutation that is associated with some cases of PD. Since then, he has donated more than $100 million towards finding a cure for Parkinson's.
- Despite the disappointing results, Roche and Genentech are continuing their research on the investigational drugs in question, with the goal of possibly finding a way to reverse the effects of the LRRK2 inhibitors in the lungs.
While personalized medicine and gene-based research and drug discovery has made amazing progress in the last ten years, failure, even temporary failure, is part of the process of achieving a breakthrough.
This example—long-term development of an idea into an investigational therapy—is prototypical of why it costs an average of $1.2 billion and takes roughly 10 to 15 years to develop a drug (based on figures from PhRMA that cite numbers from the early 2000s). Nonetheless, it is worth the effort, and Roche/Genentech intend to move forward with their research.