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The promising treatments in the 2022 Parkinson’s clinical trials pipeline

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As we know the Parkinson’s research community is hard at work to find therapies and treatments to improve the quality of life of Canadians living with Parkinson’s and ultimately find a cure. An article outlining the current clinical trials pipeline for Parkinson’s was recently published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. Here are some of the key highlights. For a refresher on clinical trials and what happens in each phase, here is a helpful FAQ.

As of January 2022, there were nearly 150 Parkinson’s therapies active in the clinical trial pipeline:

  • 50 products in Phase I
  • 65 products in Phase II
  • 17 products in Phase III

Most of the drugs in trials are for managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s (93, to be exact). Developments in disease-modifying treatments – the types of treatment that change the course of Parkinson’s progression – have been slow to emerge. However, in 2022, there are 54 disease-modifying treatments in trial phases, with three graduating to Phase III trials!

Below you’ll find a brief overview of what’s happening in each phase of the trials.

Treatments in Phase I trials

As Parkinson’s researchers work toward more precision medicines, they benefit from a wide range of therapeutic categories & tools to experiment with. ‘Therapeutic categories’ refer to all the different categories of research focuses, like stem cells, antioxidants, and gene targeting, for example. With trials spanning more than 15 therapeutics categories in the Phase I pipeline, it has a broad range of focuses. Making discoveries in more therapeutic categories means we can one day provide access to personalized treatment solutions based on the specific causes and symptom presentation of each person living with Parkinson’s.

There are 50 treatments in Phase I trials this year with about a 50/50 split between symptom-relieving products and disease-modifying treatments. Half of the treatments in Phase I are new discoveries as the result of “pathfinding” research. This is when researchers use insights from existing medications to seek out related products that warrant exploration.

Treatments in Phase II trials

Another strategy in the therapeutic research space is drug repurposing. This is when an existing medication for one condition is repurposed to treat an entirely different condition. Working with repurposed medications comes with many advantages including understanding its general safety. Repurposing an existing medication, rather than starting from scratch, typically requires fewer tests for safety as the drug has already met these requirements. This can reduce costs and speed up the process through the clinical trial pipeline. It can also lead to faster approvals, getting much-needed treatments into the hands of people with Parkinson’s as soon as possible. There are a total of 74 therapies in Phase II trials and 44% are repurposed medications.

One exciting takeaway from Phase II trials this year is the progress made with stem cell therapies. While there are nine stem cell therapies being explored in Phase I, two stem cell therapies graduated to Phase II trials this year! Moving into Phase II means these treatments are being administered to a larger group of people to monitor their effectiveness and further evaluate their safety.

Treatments in Phase III trials

What we see in Phase III trials this year is a total of 22 treatments from five different therapeutic categories. Three treatments in Phase III are disease-modifying treatments that have the potential to alter the progression of Parkinson’s disease. One is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine, one is a repurposed Alzheimer’s medication, and the other is a repurposed diabetes medication.

There are also 19 studies in Phase III addressing symptoms of Parkinson’s. While the community waits for gains to be made with disease-modifying treatments, improvements in symptom relief are critical for maintaining the quality of life. more personalized treatment plans If the symptom management products in Phase III safely and successfully complete their trials, the medical community will have more tools available to support Parkinson’s symptom management.

More on symptom treatment and disease-modifying treatments in trials

In 2022, 32 trials will be completed, including three stem cell trials. The decisions about which will move on to the next steps will be captured in the 2023 update. The current research landscape holds much promise. We are eagerly awaiting the results of the 32 trials being completed this year, what trials graduate to the next phases, and what new therapeutic categories will join the pipeline over the course of this year.

References

McFarthing, K., Rafaloff, G., Baptista, M., Mursaleen, L., Fuest, R., Wyse, R. K., & Stott, S. (2022). Parkinson’s Disease Drug Therapies in the Clinical Trial Pipeline: 2022 Update. Journal of Parkinson’s disease, 12(4), 1073–1082. https://doi.org/10.3233/JPD-229002