CDNF protein

CDNF is a protein naturally present in humans. It was discovered by Professor Mart Saarma’s laboratory at the University of Helsinki and published in the leading scientific journal, Nature, in 2007. Based on this discovery, Herantis has secured worldwide patents for recombinant human CDNF (referred to as CDNF) and launched a pharmaceutical development program.


CDNF Mechanism of Action

CDNF has a multi-modal mechanism-of-action by which it improves neuronal survival in Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. A common feature with many neurodegenerative diseases is the disruption of proteostasis in the brain, resulting in a vicious cycle of pathological accumulation of protein aggregates, neuroinflammation and various forms of cellular stress. Eventually, this results in a gradual loss of neuronal connections and progressive neuronal cell death.


CDNF Development Status

  • CDNF has shown potent neuroprotective and neurorestorative effects in preclinical models of several neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson’s disease
  • A Phase 1-2 randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter clinical study assessed safety and tolerability of CDNF infusions for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease was completed in Q3 2020. This clinical program was partially financed by the European Union.
  • Herantis is currently exploring an intranasal route of administration, i.e. a less invasive, more patient-friendly way to deliver CDNF to patients.


Selected Publications

Sidorova YA and Saarma M. Can Growth Factors Cure Parkinson’s Disease? Trends Pharmacol Sci 2020 (in press).

Huttunen HJ and Saarma M. CDNF Protein Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease. Cell Transplant. Apr 4, 2019.

Lindahl M, Saarma M, Lindholm P. Unconventional neurotrophic factors CDNF and MANF: Structure, physiological functions and therapeutic potential. Neurobiol. Dis. 97(Pt B): 90-102, 2017.