The International Linked Clinical Trials programme (iLCT) is one of the largest drug repurposing initiatives in medical research. A recent review article provides an overview of the history, structure and progress of this successful programme.

The iLCT programme is the flagship initiative of Cure Parkinson’s; over the last 10 years it has been leading the charge in testing novel therapies for disease modification in Parkinson’s.

The clinical development of new therapies is a long and costly process, taking more than 10 years in some medical conditions to bring new treatments to patients. One method of speeding up this process is ‘drug repurposing’. This idea involves taking clinically available drugs that are used for treating one disease condition, and testing them in other ailments. This approach typically starts with experiments in preclinical models, but if encouraging results are observed, then the process of translating them to humans is a lot quicker than developing an entirely new drug.

Given the availability of data regarding the medical use of most drugs currently administered in the clinic, several steps of the clinical development process can be removed in drug repurposing. This significantly speeds up the development of new treatments and reduces the costs, bringing badly needed new therapies to patients more quickly.

There are few clinical trial programmes anywhere in the world as exciting as the iLCT, and this new review article provides the template for it to be replicated in other medical conditions.

Dr Simon Stott, Deputy Director of Research, Cure Parkinson’s

An excellent example of drug repurposing is the iLCT programme that is coordinated by Cure Parkinson’s in partnership with Van Andel Institute (VAI). For 10 years this initiative, with help from an elite international committee of Parkinson’s experts, has been building a clinical trial programme focused on disease modification for Parkinson’s. There are few clinical trial programmes in the world on the same scale as the iLCT – with seven completed studies and 16 ongoing trials (including one phase 3 study).

Now a new review article provides an overview of this programme, exploring its history, structure and process, as well as describing some examples of drugs that have been prioritised by the iLCT committee for clinical evaluation. The article also discusses some of the experiences and insights that have been gained from coordinating such a project over time. The aim of the review is to provide a template that can be used by advocates for other medical conditions to set up their own drug repurposing projects.

International Linked Clinical Trials has grown into the foremost drug repurposing initiative for Parkinson’s disease in the world. It is our hope that it will lead to life-changing breakthroughs in Parkinson’s treatment while also serving as an example for similar repurposing initiatives in other diseases, such as multiple system atrophy.

Dr. Patrik Brundin, Deputy Chief Scientific Officer of Van Andel Institute and Chair of the iLCT Scientific Committee.

The International Linked Clinical Trials initiative, founded and proudly run by Cure Parkinson’s, represents a unique programme specifically aimed to identify important new treatments that will make a tangible difference to the trajectory of neurodegeneration suffered by patients with Parkinson’s disease. Our recent article, published in the prestigious journal, Frontiers of Neuroscience, describes aspects of how we conduct this global programme and some of its recent clinical developments.

Dr Richard Wyse, Director of Research & Development, Cure Parkinson’s

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