Close up of elderly woman's hands being held by another
11 June 2019
News Category: 
Research

The same drug that has slowed and reversed the progression of motor neurone disease has been found to yield similar benefits for Parkinson’s disease patients, according to the results of a new trial led by the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

The drug, developed over 15 years by scientists at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and the University of Melbourne, was shown in a trial among 19 patients to halt the progression of Parkinson’s disease and significantly reduce the severity of symptoms.

The results will be announced at the World Congress on Parkinson’s disease in Canada next week.

Parkinson’s disease is caused by a decline in dopamine levels, leading to tremors, muscle stiffness and stooped posture.

Neurologist Dr Andrew Evans from the Royal Melbourne Hospital said the drug, called CuATSM, could be a significant advance in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

“It would suggest it may well be taking the neurons that are destined to die and turning around the process, giving some symptom benefit as well as slowing the progress of the disease,” Dr Evans said.

“The impact has been that (patients) feel better, but also it gives them hope for the future that they are not going to decline in the same way that most patients will do.”

Researchers chose 19 patients for the trial, who were assigned to three different dose cohorts throughout six, 28-day cycle periods. Those in the highest dose group, who took 72mg of CuATSM per day, reported vast improvements in quality of life and symptom severity.

A recent trial of 32 motor neurone disease patients also found CuATSM slowed the progression of the disease and improved cognitive and motor ability.

Dr Evans says larger studies are needed to cement the study’s findings.

For more information about clinical trials at The Royal Melbourne Hospital visit www.thermh.org.au/research/clinical-trials

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