Dr. Camila Henriques de Aquino,
Clinical Fellow,
Toronto Western Hospital (University of Toronto)
Pedaling for Parkinson’s Clinical Movement Disorders Fellowship: $50,000

Improving Phase IIa clinical studies of new treatments for Parkinson’s disease; using the intravenous levodopa paradigm

Most people taking levodopa medication to control the slowness, tremor and rigidity associated with Parkinson’s disease eventually develop something they can’t control – involuntary movements known as dyskinesia.

During her year as a clinical fellow at Toronto Western Hospital’s Movement Disorders Clinic, Dr. Camila Henriques de Aquino is investigating a research protocol to help measure the effectiveness of new drugs to treat dyskinesia, using levodopa intravenously, instead of orally. Previously, it was difficult for researchers to measure how well anti-dyskinesia medication worked. Patients with Parkinson’s took diaries home to note when dyskinesia occurred – but then often weren’t aware of their own involuntary movements, so did not record anything.

Under this protocol, people with Parkinson’s will take anti-dyskinesia medication (or placebo). They’ll then come into the hospital, and receive an infusion of levodopa intravenously. The doctors will be able to observe for themselves how well the anti-dyskinesia medication works on reducing the symptoms.

Using this protocol, researchers will be better able to evaluate the effectiveness of new anti-dyskinesia medication, says de Aquino, who is a neurologist.

“We are trying to improve the quality of clinical trials, especially for anti-dyskinesia drugs, by using this method,” she says.
De Aquino applied for the fellowship from Sao Paolo, Brazil,
to work with Dr. Susan Fox and the surgical team at Toronto Western so she could learn to perform deep brain stimulation, a technique also used to halt dyskinesia.

“We don’t have (many) trained neurologists who work on that back home,” says de Aquino. She hopes to remain in Canada and work with Parkinson’s patients here once her fellowship is complete. De Aquino chose to work with people who have Parkinson’s disease because she enjoys being able to treat their symptoms and see the people she treats improve.“They can go back to work, they can go back to their activities – I see that we can really make a difference in patients’ lives,” she says.