Parkinson’s is a progressive condition, meaning that over time the symptoms are going to get worse. Therefore, the first and most critical step in any cure for Parkinson’s is finding a treatment that will slow or stop the progression of the condition.

The progressive loss of dopamine neurons in the brain is one of the classical hallmarks of Parkinson’s. Exactly why these particular cells are vulnerable to this condition is unknown, but awareness of their loss has provided a focal point for research efforts.

Numerous preclinical studies in models of Parkinson’s have pointed towards certain biological pathways that can be targeted. And these projects have led to the initiation of clinical trials by Cure Parkinson’s with the goal of stopping the disease progressing.

A good example of a Cure Parkinson’s supported treatment that may represent a means of slowing the progression of Parkinson’s is our exenatide clinical trial programme.

Exenatide and Parkinson’s

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In 2017, the results of a Phase 2 clinical trial demonstrated that this diabetes treatment stabilised the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s over the 48-week study – providing the first evidence of a potential disease-halting therapy.

This is the strongest evidence we have so far that a drug could do more than provide symptom relief for Parkinson’s disease

Professor Tom Foltynie, lead investigator on the exenatide programme

Another example of a disease-halting treatment is Cure Parkinson’s supported Adept-PD study. Nortriptyline is a comonly used anti-depressant treatment, but Parkinson’s researchers have reported that this drug also displays the ability to slow disease progression in models of Parkinson’s. The ADepT-PD study is evaluating two anti-depressants (including nortriptyline) in people with Parkinson’s, with Cure Parkinson’s funding a sub-study exploring disease progression.

Nortriptyline and Parkinson’s

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A future potential disease halting treatment is a novel drug called Anle138b, which is being developed by the biotech company MODAG. Anle138b is a small molecule that can inhibit the clustering of the Parkinson’s-associated alpha synuclein.

Cure Parkinson’s has funded preclinical research on Anle138b, and this molecule was prioritised by the International Linked Clinical Trials committee. Cure Parkinson’s is now working closely with MODAG to get Anle138b into a Phase 2 clinical trial for Parkinson’s.

The MODAG Anle138b clinical trial

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Another neuroprotective approach involves enhancing cellular function, and significant preclinical research has shown that boosting the function of mitochondria can help cells survive. Mitochondria are the power stations of cells – providing all of the energy requirements. Cure Parkinson’s has several clinical trial programs dedicated to mitochondria-targeted approaches. An example of this is the UDCA in Parkinson’s – UP study. UDCA is a treatment that is used for dissolving gall stones, but recently researchers have found that it also has neuroprotective properties in models of Parkinson’s. Cure Parkinson’s is co-funding the UP study to determine if UDCA could be a useful neuroprotective treatment for Parkinson’s.

UDCA and Parkinson’s

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