NEWYORK, NY — The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research awarded about $2.9 million total for two clinical studies that will test drugs already approved in other disease indications for potential efficacy against Parkinson’s disease. Because both drugs being tested are already known to be safe for humans, they hold potential to move swiftly toward regulatory approval for use in Parkinson’s patients if they prove effective in PD.
One funded team will investigate the potential of simvastatin (marketed under the trade name Zocor), a drug currently used to treat high cholesterol, to reduce dyskinesias — the disruptive, uncontrollable movements that are a side effect of long-term dopamine replacement. The other team will undertake a Phase 2 study to determine whether isradipine (marketed under the trade name Dynacirc), an approved high blood pressure medication, can rescue dopamine neurons from the degeneration seen in Parkinson’s.
Although the drugs’ current uses for cholesterol and blood pressure management might not seem relevant for PD, researchers found that the mechanisms by which each drug acts had unintended but beneficial effects on Parkinson’s disease pathways in preclinical models of the disease.
The funding was awarded under the Foundation’s Clinical Intervention Awards initiative, one of MJFF’s three annually recurring Edmond J. Safra Core Programs for PD Research. The program supports novel or critical clinical intervention trials of promising therapeutic approaches that can significantly and fundamentally improve treatments for Parkinson’s disease.
Funded projects are listed below. Detailed information, including grant abstracts and researcher bios, is available at www.michaeljfox.org.
A Randomized, Placebo-controlled, Multiple Crossover (n-of-1), Pilot trial of Simvastatin on the Treatment of Levodopa-induced Dyskinesia in Parkinson’s Disease Patients
Erwan Bezard, PhD,Universiy of Bordeaux, France, and Francois Tison, MD, PhD,
Head of Movement Disorder Unit, University Hospital of Bordeaux, France
A Pilot Phase II Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Dosage Finding and Tolerability Study of Isradipine as a Disease Modifying Agent in Patients with Early Parkinson's Disease
Tanya Simuni, MD, Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center, Northwestern University
Generous support for Dr. Simuni’s project has been provided by the Mann Family Foundation in memory of its founder, Fred Mann.