Researchers in Europe have just published a paper about a clinical trial they conducted to see if a treatment which does not involve carbidopa/levodopa has any efficacy. The result of their trial does offer hope.
Instead of seeking to stimulate the production of dopamine in the brain via levodopa, the researchers sought to protect the neurons which produce dopamine to begin with. Using a platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) the researchers found in both animals with PD symptoms and the human clinical trial that dopamine levels in the brain stayed stable, and sometimes actually increased. The human trial used PET scanning to track the dopamine production in both the trial subjects and placebo group.
What’s the next step? The researchers want to learn why exactly this treatment appears to be successful. According to lead researcher Gesine Paul, “If we are to fully take advantage of the growth factor’s restorative properties we now need to better understand the underlying molecular processes.” There also need to be more clinical trials and studies with larger sample sizes than the twelve person trial whose results are the basis for Paul’s team’s paper.
This is indeed exciting news and gives reason for optimism. There is still much research to be done and everyone will be eagerly waiting for updates. You can read more about the study via our friends at the European Parkinson’s Disease Association.