Our Research and Development portfolio of neurology projects continues to progress well. At the moment we are working on SLV308 and SLV318 for improved symptomatic treatment of Parkinson’s disease. We recently moved SLV 308 into a full phase III development program. SLV 308 is an oral therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease that combines dopamine activity with serotonin and noradrenaline mood enhancing effects. Registration submissions are intended for 2007, with availability to physicians and patients from 2008.
With the acquisition of the Swedish company Neopharma, last year, we were able to enrich our product portfolio with the Parkinson’s medication Duodopa®. Duodopa® is intended for people suffering from late stage Parkinson’s disease, while SLV308 is for the less advanced stages. Together the products are expected to fit well alongside each other.
Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder. It is both chronic, meaning it persists over a long period of time, and progressive, meaning its symptoms grow worse over time. It occurs when certain nerve cells (neurons) in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra die or become impaired. Normally, these cells produce a chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, that transports signals to the parts of the brain that control movement initiation and coordination. When approximately 80% of the dopamine-producing cells are damaged, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear.
The loss of dopamine production in the brain causes the primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The key signs of Parkinson’s disease are: tremor (shaking), slowness of movement, rigidity (stiffness) and difficulty with balance. Other signs of Parkinson’s disease may include: small, cramped handwriting, stiff facial expression, shuffling walk, muffled speech and depression.
Parkinson’s disease affects both men and women in almost equal numbers. It shows no social, ethnic, economic or geographic boundaries. While the condition usually develops after the age of 65, 15% of those diagnosed are under 50. Of all the neurodegenerative disorders it is second to Alzheimer’s disease in numbers of cases, with more that 1.3 million patients suffering from it in major countries.