Public Release: 

Could a cholesterol-lowering drug be a potential treatment for Parkinson's?

Cholesterol-lowering drug Simvastatin trialled as a potential neuroprotective treatment for Parkinson's

University of Plymouth

A clinical trial using cholesterol-lowering treatment Simvastatin in people living with Parkinson's is getting underway in centres across the country -- with the hope that it could become one of a number of effective treatments available to treat Parkinson's.

Spearheaded by Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, the double-blinded placebo controlled study will involve 198 people with Parkinson's. The trial is seeking people who have been living with Parkinson's and who are not already taking a statin. It will take place in 21 centres in the UK including Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

The trial is funded by Plymouth University, the JP Moulton Trust and The Cure Parkinson's Trust, and will be run by the Peninsula Clinical Trials Unit at Plymouth University with the support of the NIHR Clinical Research Network for the South West Peninsula.

This trial is part of The Cure Parkinson's Trust's Linked Clinical Trials Programme which is now in its fourth year. Each year an international committee comprising many of the most respected Parkinson's experts from around the world analyse a number of pre-selected compounds that show the potential to slow, stop or reverse Parkinson's to bring into clinical trials. These compounds already have proven safety records in people and a number of them are already used to treat other conditions.

This exciting programme has seen diabetes treatments, and treatments for mitochondrial dysfunction, amongst others, move forward into Parkinson's trials in a variety of centres in Europe and the US.

Commenting on the study, the trial's chief investigator Dr Camille Carroll said: "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."

Tom Isaacs, co-founder of The Cure Parkinson's Trust (CPT) who has been living with Parkinson's for 20 years 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 (which is a common feature of Parkinson's) indicate that it could be an effective treatment to slow down the progression of Parkinson's."

Jon Moulton of the JP Moulton Trust added: "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 -- which we are delighted to be able to part fund."

Parkinson's 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, or around 127,000 individuals, currently have Parkinson's. 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.

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To find out more and for details of participating Centres in the UK, or to take part, please visit: https://penctu.psmd.plymouth.ac.uk/pdstat/

For more details of the LCT programme, please contact Helen@cureparkinsons.org.uk

For more information about this press release please contact: Andrew Gould andrew.gould@plymouth.ac.uk

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 http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/campaign

Participating sites

Site Name

Derriford Hospital (Plymouth)

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Royal Cornwall Hospital (Truro)

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust

Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Exeter)

Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

Musgrove Park Hospital (Taunton

Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

Yeovil District Hospital (Yeovil)

Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Christchurch Hospital (Christchurch)

The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Royal United Hospital (Bath)

Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Foundation Trust

St Peter's Hospital (Chertsey, Surrey)

Ashford and St Peter's NHS Foundation Trust

Charing Cross Hospital (London)

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Royal Free Hospital (London)

Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Queen's Hospital (Romford, Essex)

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital NHS Trust

John Radcliffe Hospital (Oxford)

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust

Luton and Dunstable Hospital (Luton & Dunstable)

Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Addenbrooke's Hospital (Cambridge)

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Salford Royal Hospital (Salford)

Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust

Fairfield General Hospital (Bury)

The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust

Royal Preston Hospital (Preston)

Lancashire Teaching NHS Foundation Trust

Leeds General Infirmary (Leeds)

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Clinical Ageing Research Unit (Newcastle Upon Tyne)

Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

King's College Hospital (London)

King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Southmead Hospital (Bristol)

North Bristol NHS Trust

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