Review of Current Parkinson’s Disease Clinical Trials

There is currently an unmet medical need for therapies and research for Parkinson’s disease, with the incidence increasing drastically. In fact, the number of cases around the world is expected to double by 2040. In order to understand the work that is currently being done to combat Parkinson’s, medical professionals conducted an in-depth review of all of the clinical trials that are going on now.

About Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects the central nervous system (CNS). It is characterized by its effect on movement through five different stages. As the disease progresses, severity increases. Stage one is characterized by subtle tremors on one side of the body. In stage two symptoms are more noticeable, with tremors and rigidity on both sides of the body. Stage three brings loss of balance and slowed movement. Stage four makes it impossible for one to live independently. Stage five is the most severe, as patients cannot stand or walk. Hallucinations and delusions are common symptoms of this stage.

Parkinson’s disease occurs due to the death of motor neurons, some of which produce dopamine. Dopamine is important in the transmittance of messages to the muscles from the brain, so the loss of dopamine results in the loss of motor functions. Abnormal brain activity occurs when these neurons are lost. Doctors do not know why these motor neurons die, but they do suspect a few factors that play a role, such as genetics, environmental factors like toxins, and Lewy bodies.

About the Review

Using clinicaltrials.gov, the team of researchers compiled a list of 145 trials that are currently being conducted. They excluded any observational or non-drug related trials. After identifying all of these studies, they were categorized into 14 different groups, including targeting alpha synuclein, immunotherapy, dopaminergic symptom relief therapy, antioxidants, microbiome, non-dopaminergic symptom relief therapy, and cell therapy.

In terms of phases, 51 of the studies are currently in Phase 1, 66 in Phase 2, and 28 in Phase 3. A number of the trials, 50, are investigating re-purposed drugs.

57 revolved around disease modifying therapies that will work long-term, while the other 88 will relieve short-term symptoms. Within the 88, 45 focus on improving overall movement, four on gait and balance, three on tremors, and six on involuntary muscle movements. Diving deeper into the 57 that aim to modify disease, four are investigating mitochondrial deficiencies. Four others are looking into the GBA gene, which greatly increases one’s risk of Parkinson’s if it is mutated.

Not only do these trials focus on treatments, but a number of them (more than 40) are looking into biomarkers. Knowing more about biomarkers will allow for better and earlier diagnosis, which then leads to earlier and more effective treatment.

Overall, this study has reassured medical professionals that there is a lot being done to find a treatment and advance research for Parkinson’s disease. You can read more about it here.

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