Researchers in Germany are conducting a new phase 2 clinical trial to determine if an existing cardiovascular drug called fasudil, could help people with Parkinson’s.

Fasudil has a long safety record and has been used in Japan to treat heart and blood vessel problems since the 1990’s. It works by blocking a specific protein in cells called ‘ROCK’ (or Rho-associated kinase). ROCK is involved in many cell processes and evidence suggests levels of this protein are higher than usual in people with Parkinson’s. Researchers propose this protein may play a role in Parkinson’s and inhibiting ROCK activity could therefore have a protective effect on neurons (nerve cells), potentially slowing disease progression. Furthermore, previous studies suggest lowering ROCK activity may protect neurons from damage caused by oxidative stress and neuroinflammation – two factors involved in Parkinson’s.

The main objective of this upcoming trial, named ‘ROCK-PD’, will be to assess the safety and tolerability of fasudil when taken by participants and the protocol for this study has now been published.

Cure Parkinson’s has been interested in fasudil for some time. In 2013, Cure Parkinson’s international Linked Clinical Trials (iLCT) committee prioritised fasudil for clinical testing in people with Parkinson’s, and our Director of Clinical Development, Dr Richard Wyse, is a member of the trial management committee supporting the research team conducting this trial. We look forward to seeing this study progress and assisting with its further development.