Biogen Idec, Inc. (Massachusetts) Team Makes Parkinson's Discovery

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. and SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 17, 2005--Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB - News), a global biotechnology leader with products and capabilities in oncology, neurology and immunology, announced today that scientists have discovered that a receptor in the central nervous system (CNS) may have a specific function in the neurons that degenerate during the progression of Parkinson's disease.

This research, discovered by a team of Biogen Idec-led scientists, is the first to suggest that inhibiting the Nogo-66 receptor (NgR1) may provide therapeutic benefit in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. The abstract outlining this research, "Neuroprotection and Regeneration by Nogo Receptor Inhibition in Experimental Parkinson's Disease," was presented yesterday afternoon at the Society of Neuroscience Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Parkinson's disease is a chronic disease of the CNS in which dopamine containing neurons in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra degenerate and die. The neurotransmitter dopamine, utilized by these neurons allows smooth, coordinated movement of the body. Current therapies can ease the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, but none are able to slow or reverse its progression.

The new research by Biogen Idec scientists on an experimental model of Parkinson's disease suggests that inhibiting the NgR1 pathway promotes dopaminergic cell survival in the substantia nigra region of the brain, increases dopamine levels in the affected areas of the brain, and improves behavioral response.

NgR1 is a receptor for three proteins found in myelin, the insulating substance that ensheathes axons. These proteins may inhibit nerve growth and may prevent nerve regeneration after injury. NgR1 may also accelerate nerve degeneration following injury. Biogen Idec scientists hypothesized that blocking NgR1 may slow degeneration of axons and prevent death of dopamine containing neurons in experimental Parkinson's disease.

"This research suggests a pathway in looking at how to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease," said Alphonse Galdes, D.Phil., Biogen Idec's Vice President, Drug Discovery. "We continue to make exciting discoveries around central nervous system repair and regeneration and will pursue this pathway in the hope of transforming these observations into a potential therapy."

In conducting this research, Biogen Idec scientists have closely collaborated with Yale University scientists, who discovered the NgR1 receptor. Biogen Idec has an agreement with Yale University to develop therapies based on the discovery.

"These new findings suggest molecular links between nerve fiber degeneration and regeneration, and emphasize the role of axons in neurodegenerative disease," said Stephen M. Strittmatter, M.D., Ph.D., Vincent Coates Professor of Neurology, Yale University Medical School.

About Biogen Idec

Biogen Idec creates new standards of care in oncology, neurology and immunology. As a global leader in the development, manufacturing and commercialization of novel therapies, Biogen Idec transforms scientific discoveries into advances in human healthcare. For product labeling, press releases and additional information about the company, please visit

Contact: Media Contact: Biogen Idec Jose Juves, 617-914-6524 Associate Director, Public Affairs or Investment Community Contact: Biogen Idec Oscar Velastegui, 617-679-2812 Senior Manager, Investor Relations

Source: Biogen Idec

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