At their best, drugs for Parkinson's disease (PD) only slow the progression of the disease. But now a small clinical trial has shown that a cancer drug already approved by the FDA may have the potential to reverse PD symptoms, both motor and non-motor. as well as symptoms of depression.
The new hope was announced at the recent meeting of the Society for Neuroscience by researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Center. Using a drug developed for leukemia patients, the scientists cut the dose, and gave it to 12 patients who had either advanced PD with dementia or the related Lewy body dementia.
Dr. Fernando Pagan, director of the Movement Disorders Program at Georgetown, spoke at a meeting I attended last week. He acknowledged that this study involved only a small sample, none of whom received a placebo. The gold standard element for drug efficacy trials is "double-blind," where neither participants nor investigators know who gets the drug and who gets the placebo.
He said a larger clinical trial is planned and hopefully will start in early 2016. I asked Dr. Pagan when, assuming the expanded trial went well, we might be able to begin using the drug. He estimated it would be 3 to 5 years.
For more on his potential breakthrough, see my blog post at bit.ly/1lDGMiT.