At Atuka, we collaborate with you to deliver unparalleled scientific expertise that accelerates your program while mitigating risk and ensuring quality. Our extensive preclinical research experience includes Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other motor and cognitive disorders, areas in which our team members have published hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific publications.

We provide industry-leading model development, custom synthesis and compound procurement services, and we offer scientific consulting with our respected experts.

Our end-to-end preclinical expertise includes everything needed to keep your project under one roof and minimize your management demands. Our services include pharmacokinetics (PK) and bioanalysis, advanced imaging techniques (MRI, PET, on-site cyclotron), skilled surgeons, and biodistribution capabilities that help maximize efficacy while minimizing your risk to safety. We also provide chemistry services including expert custom synthesis and procurement of compounds or libraries for screening and other preclinical drug testing processes.

Our Models

When you partner with Atuka, you gain access to our highly skilled scientists and industry-leading rodent and non-human primate models. Our models include highly predictive Parkinson’s disease models that approximate both cognitive and motor deficits. We also offer numerous models of other neurological disorders and healthy adults that can be used to test the cognitive effects of any compound.

With technicians who can deliver test items by many routes, administer test items to specific tissues or brain regions, and perform postmortem tissue collection to the level of sub-brain regions, we help you precisely assess the impact of your therapy. The applicability and value of this capability is significant, and it includes gene therapy studies, an area in which Atuka has considerable experience. 

Primate Models of Parkinson’s Disease 

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that progresses gradually, predominantly affecting nervous system functioning through the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. Visible symptoms include tremors, slow or decreased movement (bradykinesia and hypokinesia, respectively), limb stiffness, and gait and balance impairments. Other symptoms include depression, apathy, hallucinations, sleep disorders, loss of smell, and numerous cognitive impairments. 

Atuka has conducted primate Parkinson’s disease studies of over 100 macaques within a single study, allowing us to perform studies that no other CRO can. These studies can evaluate efficacy, pharmacokinetics and bioanalysis, in vivo brain imaging, surgical delivery of vectors/compounds to the brain, intrathecal delivery, functional observational batteries, tissue and blood collection, and physiological parameter monitoring. 

Our primate Parkinson’s disease models:

  • MPTP-lesioned macaque (early or advanced disease model) 
Side-effects (motor and non-motor) 
  • Chronic L-DOPA treated MPTP-lesioned macaque (advanced) 
Disease modification 
  • MPTP-lesioned macaque (early) 
  • AAV α-synuclein macaque 
  • PFF α-synuclein macaque 
  • Chronic low-dose MPTP-treated macaques 

Other primate models:

Biodistribution (e.g., for AAV based gene therapies, ASOs) 
Non-GLP toxicity 
Anxiety assessment using the Human Intruder Test (HIT) 

Rodent Models of Parkinson’s Disease

We offer numerous well-characterized rodent models of Parkinson’s disease and movement-related disorders, including models that go through a rapid degeneration process, allowing faster evaluation of test compounds.  

Our models:

Disease modification 
  • AAV α-synuclein rat and mouse
  • PFF α-synuclein rat and mouse
  • MPTP-lesioned mouse
  • 6-OHDA lesion rat (partial)
  • AAV α-synuclein rat 
  • 6-OHDA-lesioned rat (full or partial lesion) 
  • Reserpine or haloperidol treated rat 
Side-effects (motor and non-motor) 
  • High-dose L-DOPA-treated reserpine rat 
  • Chronic L-DOPA-treated 6-OHDA-lesion mouse or rat (full) 
  • De novo L-DOPA-treated 6-OHDA-lesion mouse or rat 

Primate Cognition Models

Cognitive impairment and dementia are hallmarks of many diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. They cause a long-term and often gradual decrease in mental ability, negatively impacting quality of life for patients and those who care for them. There is currently no cure for cognitive impairment or dementia. 

Atuka’s neuroscientists have deep expertise in this area, and we offer access to numerous non-human primates for the development of potentially life-altering neurotherapeutic medicines. Atuka provides numerous non-human primate models and extensive cognitive testing capabilities to assess the impact of your compound. We also have comprehensive behavioural, imaging (MRI/PET), pharmacokinetics, safety, blood chemistry, and postmortem capabilities.  


Normal young adult macaques  
  • To test cognitive effects of any compound (PAL, DMTS, OR) 
Scopolamine-treated young adult macaques  
  • Model of cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s disease (PAL, DMTS, OR) 
Normal aged macaques (20-25 years old)  
  • Model of cognitive deficits in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease (PAL, DMTS, ID/ED, OR) 
Chronic low-dose MPTP-treated macaques  
  • Model of cognitive deficits in Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, and schizophrenia (VDR, CPT, ID/ED, OR) 
Cognitive tests 
  • Paired Associative Learning (PAL) 
  • Delayed Matching to Sample (DMTS) 
  • Five-choice Serial reaction Time (5-CSRT) 
  • Variable Delayed Response (VDR) 
  • Attentional Set Shifting/Intra-Extra Dimensional shift (ID/ED) 
  • Continuous Performance Task (CPT) 
  • Object Retrieval Task 

Consulting Services

Atuka offers scientific consultancy services with our trusted and globally respected leaders, providing extensive insight and expertise that spans the gamut of preclinical drug development. We continually assess and appraise evolving drug development activity for Parkinson’s disease and other disorders, and our scientific leaders work closely with you to advise solutions that are tailored to your specific needs in terms of science, timelines, and cost.

Dr. Susan Fox

Susan acts as a consultant in the design, analysis, and interpretation of Atuka projects evaluating potential therapeutics for motor aspects of Parkinson’s disease. In addition to project-specific work, Susan has been responsible for developing and validating the clinically relevant rating scales we use to evaluate benefits in parkinsonism and dyskinesia. Susan is a professor in the division of neurology, University of Toronto, and a staff neurologist at the Toronto Western Hospital. Her research interests include preclinical studies investigating disease mechanisms, particularly neuropsychiatric problems of Parkinson’s disease. She is also involved in Phase II and Phase III clinical trials of new treatments for Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. She is a member of the International Executive Committee of the Movement Disorder Society and is a past chair of the Movement Disorder Society Evidence Based Medicine update on the treatment of motor symptoms for Parkinson’s disease. 

Dr. Jay Schneider,
Head of Cognition 

Jay directly manages the design, analysis, and interpretation of the non-human primate cognition studies we perform. He established CANTAB and other cognition assays within the Atuka laboratories. Jay received his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and received postdoctoral training at the University of California, Los Angeles. Outside his Atuka role, Jay leads basic and clinical efforts in Parkinson’s disease research at Thomas Jefferson University, which focuses on developing new treatments for cognitive dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease, as well as neurorestorative and symptomatic motor therapies for the disease. He also oversees several clinical trials involving novel therapeutics for Parkinson’s disease. 

Ruairí Mac Síomóin

Ruairí supports the development of Atuka business in Japan. Ruairí has resided in Japan for over 25 years and has held various technical and business development positions in Japanese pharma and biotech companies. He received his B.Sc. from Trinity College, Ireland, and his M.Sc. from the University of Tokyo.

John Yi

John supports the development of Atuka business in South Korea.  

Additional Areas of Expertise

Atuka’s team of scientists have earned a reputation for providing expertise, models, and technologies that enable our partners to gain a thorough understanding of their therapies and make confident decisions for their programs. This is made possible through our 3 Pillars of Scientific Integrity, Collaboration, and People. Adhering to the most rigorous standards enables us to provide high-quality collaborative services that deepen our existing partnerships and draw new ones to our door.  

To ensure we always meet the needs of our partners while remaining true to our promise of expertise, Atuka has two additional areas of focus now and in the future: 

  1. Further elucidating our current Parkinson’s disease models and developing new ones 
  2. Broadening our services into therapeutic areas where our experience allows us to excel 

Both represent tremendous growth opportunities. The first area allows us to continue building on our established expertise in Parkinson’s disease, adding value to our offerings and ensuring that we remain the leading supplier of preclinical Parkinson’s disease models. The second area allows us to replicate our work in Parkinson’s disease studies in other areas, enabling us to work with new partners while expanding our capabilities for all.  

As we move into new areas, we never simply offer currently available models; we thoroughly research them, discover their limitations, and develop novel models that meet unmet needs. That is how we provide maximum benefit to our partners, and that is how we ultimately help patients who need life-altering therapies.