Medtronic, Lilly Partner on Parkinson’s Treatment

The two companies are researching a way to administer a new drug to the brain using an implantable drug-delivery system.

Medtronic, Inc., is collaborating with Indianapolis-based drug maker Eli Lilly and Company to develop a treatment for Parkinson's disease, the companies said on Tuesday.

The two companies hope to treat the condition by administering a new Eli Lilly drug to patients' brains using Medtronic's implantable drug-delivery system.

Parkinson's-for which there is currently no cure-is caused by the progressive loss of neurons in the brain. Patients experience balance problems, tremors, and muscular stiffness, among other symptoms, which worsen over time.

Eli Lilly's new drug is a modified form of glial cell derived neurotrophic factor, a protein that researchers have previously speculated could be a possible answer to Parkinson's. Medtronic's delivery system consists of a drug pump and a specially designed catheter, which enable precise and consistent delivery of the drug into a targeted area of the brain.

If successful, the procedure could slow neurodegeneration, or the worsening of symptoms and progression of the disease, the companies said.

“Our collaboration with Lilly is bringing together the expertise of both companies to develop a new approach to the treatment of Parkinson's disease,” Steve Oesterle, senior vice president of Medtronic's medicine and technology department, said in a statement. “We have extensive experience in targeted drug delivery and technology that allow delivery of therapeutic agents directly to the brain.”

Fridley-based Medtronic is Minnesota's seventh-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $15.8 billion in its most recently completed fiscal year.