National Institute of Health Funded Trial to Evaluate Blood Pressure Drug as Potential New Treatment
by Carlos Arcila
Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that erodes an individual's control over their movements and speech. Over time, Parkinson's patients experience stiffness or rigidity of the arms and legs, slowness or lack of movement, and walking difficulties, in addition to tremors in their hands, arms, legs, jaw or face.
Researchers from the University of Rochester and Northwestern University are set to launch a phase 3 trial for Parkinson's following the discovery that Isradipine, a Food and Drug Administration-approved drug to treat high blood pressure, offers promise in treating Parkinson's.
The primary goal of the study is to determine whether the drug can slow the progression of the disease by keeping the brain's dopamine-producing cells healthier for a longer period of time. Researchers believe that the development of disease modifying approaches - commonly referred to as neuroprotection - and new ways to monitor the progress of the disease when complemented with existing symptom-managing therapies, could help hold disability at bay.
Researchers suspect that the drug may also be effective in treating Parkinson's for a couple reasons. First, population scale studies have shown that people taking the drug for high blood pressure have a lower incidence of Parkinson's disease. Additionally, isradipine is in a category of drugs called calcium channel blockers, meaning they inhibit certain cellular functions. Researchers speculate that overactive calcium channels may play a role in the death of the dopamine producing cells in the brain that is one of the hallmarks of Parkinson's.
The $16 million phase 3 Parkinson's neuroprotective study is currently funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institute of Health (NIH). The research is being conducted by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in partnership with the University of Rochester Medical Center. The study will recruit 336 individuals with Parkinson's disease at 56 sites throughout North America and will follow the participants for three years.
As part of the study, Verizon Enterprise Solutions is providing the communications technology that enables the exchange of data so that patient information can be securely transmitted to researchers for analysis and interpretation.