Statin could boost treatments for people with Parkinson’s disease – Oxford

19th April 2016

Researchers at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford are hoping a statin, commonly used to lower cholesterol, could slow or even stop Parkinson’s disease in its tracks.

The PD STAT study, which has just launched at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, will test whether simvastatin has the potential to protect nerve cells in the brain from injury or loss. Widely prescribed to lower cholesterol and prevent heart problems, simvastatin could also slow down or halt the progression of Parkinson’s disease. 

The study is supported by the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network: Thames Valley and South Midlands, the local research delivery arm of the NHS. 

There is no cure, and there have been few innovations, in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease over the past 40 years. For the 127,000 people living with the condition in the UK, results of this trial could provide a welcome boost to the range of treatments available to them.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition that affects movement and speech. At present there is no cure and little understanding as to why some people develop the condition. One in 500 people in the UK currently have Parkinson’s disease. Worldwide, it is estimated that 10-20 million people are living with the disease and this number is expected to double by 2030. Many of these cases are undiagnosed and untreated. [1]

Dr Sudhir Singh is a Geratology consultant at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and leads the study locally. He said: “A key process in Parkinson’s disease seems to be triggered when a protein called alpha-synuclein forms sticky clumps, causing problems inside nerve cells, eventually leading to their death. The effects of simvastatin on this alpha-synuclein clumping (drawn from results of a recent study with multiple sclerosis patients) suggest that it could be an effective treatment to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s. In addition, simvastatin’s proven safety profile gives it a head start in the race to find more and better treatments for Parkinson’s.”

PD STAT is recruiting people with Parkinson’s disease who have never taken a statin before.

The study is being led by Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, with the support of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network, the part of the NHS which supports research delivery. It is sponsored by Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust and funded by The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and the JP Moulton Charitable Foundation.

Dr Jon Stamford, Director and co-founder of Parkinson’s Movement, an initiative of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, is a neuroscientist living with Parkinson’s disease. He said: “This is a hugely important trial involving more than 20 centres in the country. Whereas Parkinson’s can be treated symptomatically, there is little or nothing available that can slow down the progression of the illness. Early clinical data with simvastatin offers the possibility that this may soon be a possibility.”

Further information is available from the trial website at or from the local Parkinson’s research team at

For further press information or interviews contact: 

NIHR Clinical Research Network: Thames Valley and South Midlands 

Communications and Engagement Team 

Tel: (01865) 226627 


About the PD STAT study

Please visit the study website: 

About Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) is one of the largest acute teaching trusts in the UK, with a national and international reputation for the excellence of its services and its role in patient care, teaching and research. The Trust supports world-leading research programmes in cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s through its designation as one of the UK’s five comprehensive biomedical centres and units. It works in close partnership with the University of Oxford and is a leading centre for cancer, neurosciences, diabetes, genetics and many other fields. Research themes of particular strength are: cancer, cardiovascular science, diabetes, endocrinology & metabolism, infection and immunology, musculoskeletal science, neuroscience and reproduction and development. As of October 1 2015, the Trust was awarded Foundation Trust status. This decision comes after the Care Quality Commission gave OUH an overall rating of ‘Good’ in May 2014, and after scrutiny of the Trust’s quality, finances, service delivery and governance arrangements by the NHS Trust Development Authority and Monitor. The Trust has been designated as a major trauma centre and is one of four UK centres for craniofacial surgery and The Trust employs over 12,000 staff and consists of four hospitals: the Churchill Hospital, John Radcliffe Hospital and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford and the Horton General Hospital in Banbury. 

About the NIHR Clinical Research Network

The NIHR Clinical Research Network is part of the National Institute for Health Research. We provide researchers with the practical support they need to make clinical studies happen in the NHS, so that more research takes place across England, and more patients can take part. This practical support includes: reducing the “red-tape” around setting up a study; enhancing NHS resources, by funding the people and facilities needed to carry out research “on the ground”; helping researchers to identify suitable NHS sites, and recruit patients to take part in research studies; advising researchers on how to make their study “work” in the NHS environment. 

For more information about the Clinical Research Network: Thames Valley and South Midlands, visit

The NIHR Clinical Research Network pledged research delivery support to 1,869 new clinical studies and recruited more than 618,000 patients to studies between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2015. More info is available at:

About Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry 

Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (PU PSMD) focuses on medical, dental and biomedical education and research. In education it takes the lead in using innovative, evidence-based learning techniques which nurture future doctors, dentists and biomedical scientists who are clinically excellent, have immense empathy for those in their care, and who are well-prepared for roles in an ever-changing health service. Research covers the areas of clinical neurosciences; cancer; inflammation, infection and immunity; diagnostics; genomics; stratification; prevention; personalised integrated care; and novel health technologies. The Research Excellence Framework 2014 ranked the organisation top in the UK for the quality of its research outputs. It is one of the lead academic partners in the Alzheimer’s Research UK South West Research Network, and one of four Research Centres of Excellence for charity Brain Tumour Research. PU PSMD holds the Athena SWAN Bronze Award. The awards recognise institutional and departmental commitment to advancing women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine/dentistry in Higher Education and Research. The Plymouth University ‘Shape the Future’ Campaign is a strategic fundraising initiative to transform lives and make a real and lasting difference to our global society. It supports a number of projects including the Derriford Research Facility and Brain Tumour Research at Plymouth University. If you would like to support the Campaign you can find out more by visiting 

[1] Further information on Parkinson’s disease is available at

6 Replies

  • Interestingly, I was recently given the opportunity to be assessed to take part in one of the trials at my local hospital. However, I'm rather wary of statins and if you end up on them instead of the placebo, it's a high dose. But secondly, I'm taking a supplement called Inosine, which is showing promising results in other studies, and I'd have to stop that. So, on balance, I decided not to. I will follow the trials with interest.

  • There is epidemiological evidence of reduced PD among statin users:

    and works in vitro on human neurons:

    Statins reduced the levels of α-syn accumulation in the detergent insoluble fraction of the transfected cells. This was accompanied by a redistribution of α-syn in caveolar fractions, a reduction in oxidized α-syn, and enhanced neurite outgrowth. In contrast, supplementation of the media with cholesterol increased α-syn aggregation in detergent insoluble fractions of transfected cells and was accompanied by reduced neurite outgrowth.

    this too:


    OK, looks very promising.  Beware of statins' adverse effects though:

    FDA announced new safety recommendations for high dose simvastatin, citing an “increased risk of myopathy when using the 80 mg dose of simvastatin.”


    Immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy (IMNM) is characterized by the predominant presence of necrotic muscle fibres in muscle biopsy ...Conclusion. Our data show an increasing incidence of IMNM, which is mainly accounted for by anti-HMGCR-positive IMNM associated with the use of statins.

  • The research on statins is mixed and the following study does not support the hypothesis that statins are good for PD:

    Personally I will never use statins because any drug/supplement that depletes CoQ10, which is good for PD, is not for me.  Sure in this study shows statins break up alpha synuclein but so does magnesium, selenomethionine (selenium),  zinc, curcumin.......all of which are much better for the body and have multiple positive therapeutic affects within the body.

  • Wow, thanks for finding that, silvestrov.  Impressed that the authors declared their sponsorship and degree of participation in their study right up front.  And this:

    "statin usage may merely be a marker of higher total- and/or LDL-cholesterol levels, possibly the real factor related to a lower risk for PD."

    -which would explain the results of earlier studies.

  • Thanks for providing a response to the Statin potential - I developed peripheral neuropathy in both legs a few months after starting Lipitor to reduce my cholesterol! (8 years ago). I became highly nauseous, and immediately stopped the treatment. I woke a month later with a "paralysed" "poked" left foot - this led to neurological conductance tests which showed a major - equal - reduction in both speed and power of nerve conductance from my knee down!! Today, both feet feel like foam pads when walking, but I am (surprisingly) able to do balance arabesques!!

  • My father, who also has Parkinson's, was placed on statins years (prior to developing Parkinson's) and he had to be taken off statins because they made him violent.

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