New Parkinson’s Treatment Possible in Cholesterol-lowering Drug

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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clinical trials

Simvastatin, a cholesterol lowering drug, will be investigated as a potential treatment option for Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. Researchers hope this drug might one day effectively treat the disease.

The double-blinded placebo-controlled clinical trial, in development at the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, plans to enroll up to 198 PD patients at 21 U.K. centers. Researchers are considering only those people not currently under treatment with statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs). The trial is sponsored by Plymouth University, The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, and the JP Moulton Trust.

Simvastatin belongs to a group of drugs called HMG CoA reductase inhibitors or statins. It reduces the levels of “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) and triglycerides in the blood, while increasing levels of “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL). Simvastatin is also used to lower the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other heart complications in people with diabetes, coronary heart disease, or other risk factors.

“It is encouraging to see new compounds that are already approved as being safe for use in man being trialled for use in Parkinson’s. There have been few innovations in the treatment of Parkinson’s for over 40 years and for the more than 127,000 people living with the condition in the UK, the results of this trials programme could lead to new and highly effective treatments in the armoury of medications to tackle Parkinson’s,” Dr. Camille Carroll, the trial’s chief investigator, said in a press release.

Tom Isaacs, a co-founder of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT) who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 20 years ago, added, “At CPT, we are leaving no stone unturned in our quest to find new treatments that will slow, stop or reverse Parkinson’s. We want to make a difference to those of us living with this condition within five years. The results of a recent trial in multiple sclerosis with simvastatin, and the pre-clinical work investigating its effect on alpha-synuclein clumping [a common disease feature] indicate that it could be an effective treatment to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s.”

The CPT runs a program, now in its fourth year, that moves drugs with proven safety profiles and a perceived potential to aid Parkinson’s patients into clinical trials. This study is part of that program.

Jon Moulton of the JP Moulton Trust concluded, “The Moulton Charitable Foundation was pleased to fund the highly successful trial in Multiple Sclerosis. We very much hope to see a clinical benefit at modest cost for sufferers of Parkinson’s in this trial.”

Information on the U.K. centers taking part in the trial is available through this link.


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