Date: 04 February 2019
A new clinical trial supported by the NIHR is offering patients with Parkinson’s disease a liver disease drug that has the potential to slow down progression of the neurological condition.
The ground-breaking study, led by researchers at NIHR Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre, will assess the safety and tolerability of the liver drug ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) in patients with Parkinson’s disease. The trial will also for the first time assess potential of UDCA to slow down disease progression in Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s disease currently affects around 145,000 people in the UK. Patients with the disease experience problems with mobility such as walking, coordination or tremor, as well as memory loss, low mood and abnormal bowel function.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are mainly caused by loss of dopamine-containing nerve cells in the area of the brain that controls movement. In the brains of patients with Parkinson’s, the ‘batteries’ - their mitochondria - in these nerve cells malfunction and cause the cells to die.
Researchers at the NIHR Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre screened 2,000 drugs to assess for their rescue effect on mitochondrial function in the tissue of patients with Parkinson’s. The drug UDCA, which has been used to treat liver disease for more than 30 years, was identified as the most promising drug to rescue mitochondrial function.
The new trial, known as the UP Study (UDCA in Parkinson’s), will be conducted at two centres in the UK - Sheffield and London, in collaboration with Professor Tom Foltynie at University College London Hospitals.
Professor Oliver Bandmann, Professor of Movement Disorders - Neurology at the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) and an Honorary Consultant Neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “After nearly a decade of research we are extremely pleased to launch the first clinical trial of UDCA in Parkinson’s patients to see if the drug is safe and tolerated.
“Currently, Parkinson’s is relentlessly progressive, but patients tend to respond very well to symptomatic medication in the early stages of the disease. A drug that will slow down the progression of the disease - even after the first few years of diagnosis – would help people to have an improved quality of life for longer.”
If successful, this pilot trial will lead to a bigger study to establish the effectiveness of the UDCA to slow down progression of Parkinson’s disease.
You may also be interested in