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Novel blood-brain barrier permeable CDNF-derived therapeutic peptides for the protection and regeneration of dopamine neurons

Novel blood-brain barrier permeable CDNF-derived therapeutic peptides for the protection and regeneration of dopamine neurons


Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease characterized by the progressive loss of midbrain dopamine neurons that leads to the severe movement disorders and several non-motor symptoms. Available PD treatments do not provide long-lasting relief from the symptoms and do not slow down or stop the neurodegeneration.
Cerebral dopamine neurotrophic factor (CDNF) was shown to reverse the PD-associated neurodegeneration in vitro and in vivo in animal models. Currently, CDNF is tested in the phase I-II clinical trials in PD patients. Despite of the promising results, CDNF doesn’t pass through the blood brain barrier (BBB) and should be delivered to the brain of PD patients through the risky microsurgery. Thus, there is a great need for the CDNF variants that can penetrate through the BBB avoiding intracranial surgery. In addition, systemic delivery of BBB permeable CDNF would offer a possibility to treat non-motor symptoms.
Current proposal combines the cutting-edge molecular neurobiology and nanomedicine to develop the next generation CDNF-derived peptides that will be able to penetrate the BBB. For that 1) the length of CDNF will be reduced to enable penetration through the BBB, 2) CDNF fragment will be mutated to improve its stability in the blood and tissues and 3) CDNF fragment will be conjugated to nanoparticles to increase its stability and ability to penetrate the BBB. Our preliminary data showed the feasibility of this approach and holds great promises for the breakthrough in the treatment of PD. In addition, during the project applicant will be trained into independent group leader through the hands-on training in the top scientific laboratories and by managing the highly innovative research at the interface of different disciplines connecting three excellent scientists: Prof. Saarma, the world leading molecular neurobiology researcher, Prof. Laakkonen, the expert in homing peptides and Prof. Santos, the master of nanomedicine.
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Yliopistonkatu 3
00014 Helsingin Yliopisto


Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 202 680,96

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 835140


Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    2 September 2019

  • End date

    1 September 2021

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 202 680,96

  • EU contribution

    € 202 680,96

Coordinated by: