Three prominent research institutions are teaming up to see if blood cancer drug Tasigna (nilotinib) has the ability to treat Parkinson’s disease.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation, Van Andel Research Institute, and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust will work together to design and fund a therapeutic development program that will include a double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial commencing next year.
All participants in this endeavor are seeking to validate and elaborate on data produced by an earlier clinical test performed by researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center.
Results from that analysis had shown low doses of Tasigna, which kills off tumor cells through autophagy, had led to encouraging early changes in the buildup of the toxic proteins linked to Parkinson’s, according to FierceBiotech.
Patients had to take the drug daily in order to combat the buildup of proteins each day. The low doses of Tasigna induced autophagy, but it produced the effect for only a few hours cleaning out the cells without causing considerable damage.
However, this investigation had a small patient population and was instituted purely for analyzing the drug’s safety profile so this new partnership will seek to confirm these beneficial effects through a second, larger trial.
The organizations wrote an editorial timed to the announcement urging caution because they wanted to rule out the possibility of a placebo effect and the probability of side effects increasing in a bigger patient testing group, but all constituents still seemed excited about this project.
“We are enthusiastic about this partnership, which demonstrates the commitment of those involved to leave no stone unturned in the quest to find better treatments for Parkinson’s,” said Tom Isaacs, co-founder of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, in a statement.
“It is imperative that we work urgently with the Parkinson’s community — my fellow patients as well as drug developers — as we continue vetting nilotinib’s potential to address the medical needs of people with Parkinson’s in a safe and effective manner,” he continued.