Published in the Spring/Summer of 2023, the Fox Focus provides a summary of research briefs in five key areas. Below is a summary of each:
Positive Phase III Results for Infused Levodopa A new continuous drug infusion may soon be on its way to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for possible approval. Neuroderm recently announced positive results from its Phase III trial on ND0612, a liquid levodopa/carbidopa. The formulation is infused continuously under the skin to provide more consistent symptom relief. In the trial, participants on ND0612 had nearly one and three-quarters hours more “on” time per day, without significant symptoms, than those taking the drug in pill form. MJFF funded earlier studies of this therapy, a critical step toward gathering additional data, support, and momentum on the path to this current late stage of drug development.
Could a Glove Ease Parkinson’s Symptoms?
Researchers at Stanford Medicine are developing a glove that may ease motor symptoms of Parkinson’s. Currently being tested in clinical trials, the glove delivers light vibration to the fingertips, which may “reset” abnormal electrical activity in the brain. If the trials are successful, the researchers plan to seek DA clearance for the glove. Similar studies supported by MJFF have tested devices that deliver mild vibrations to the feed to aid gait, and to the upper chest to aid swallowing. While technology-enabled approaches like these show promise, more testing is needed.
New Method Could Detect Parkinson’s During Eye Examinations
Researchers are working on a way to easily diagnose Parkinson’s during eye examinations. With grant support from MJFF, scientist at Amydis, Inc. are investigating a fluorescing tracer that lights up when it binds to clumps of alpha-synuclein, a hallmark of Parkinson’s, in retinal neurons. The light can be detected with devices already commonly in use by ophthalmologists. Using this technique, Parkinson’s could be detected early in the course of the disease quickly, safely, and affordably.
Alzheimer’s Drug Approval Shows Promise of Protein Markers for Neurodegenerative Diseases
The FDA approved lecanemab (brand name Leqembi), a new drug that targets amyloid-beta protein in the brain, which is believed to contribute to the cell death that causes thinking and memory changes in Alzheimer’s disease. The lecanemab approval came with data showing changes in amyloid-beta with the drug and demonstrates the power of protein markers in neurodegenerative diseases. MJFF and Parkinson’s researchers are working urgently to test therapies targeting alpha-synuclein, the protein found in most people with Parkinson’s disease, with promising leads in measures including imaging and biofluids.
Nuplazid Safety News
New studies have affirmed the safety of Nuplazid (pimavanserin), approved by the FDA in 2016 for people with Parkinson’s disease psychosis (hallucinations and delusions). A 2021 study published in Neurology found that people over age 65 with Parkinson’s who were taking Nuplazid had a higher risk of hospitalization or death than people not taking the drug. However, top Parkinson’s physicians have pointed out the study had significant limitations, including that comparison groups were not equally matched. The newer studies show Nuplazid is as safe as other anti-psychosis medications.
Source: Research Briefs. The Fox Focus on Parkinson's, The Michael J. Fox Foundation. Spring/Summer 2023.