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Local Tech Wire

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – For the second time in six months, the is funding research by (Nasdaq: TRGT).

The foundation is providing a grant worth $304,000 to Targacept for a program involving a Parkinson’s Disease biomarker.

If Targacept can identify one or more biomarkers in people with Parkinson’s, the disease could be diagnosed earlier and also identify people for clinical trials. Biomarkers also help track the impact of a drug and whether it is achieving the desired effect.

The research, which will last one year, will be led by Daniel Yohannes, Targacept’s director of drug discovery.

“Biomarker research could prove to be very valuable in the development of novel therapeutics for Parkinson’s disease,” said Targacept Chief Executive Officer J. Donald deBethizy.

Fox, a longtime popular actor, is fighting Parkinson’s.

Kristen Jordan, who is director of behavioral pharmacology at Targacept, is the principal investigator on the $600,000 grant that the Fox Foundation awarded the company last July.

Targacept is focused on research into neuronal nicotinic receptors, or NNRs. They are a class of proteins in the nervous system that control levels of chemical messengers such as dopamine. According to Targacept, nicotine has been linked to over-stimulation of dopamine in brain regions that are involved in feelings of reward and pleasure.,