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Clinical trial of potential Parkinson’s anti-inflammatory drug to be run at Addenbrooke’s by Cambridge researchers





A clinical trial that will assess whether an anti-inflammatory drug could help treat Parkinson’s disease will be carried out by Cambridge researchers with patients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

The early phase trial will involve 36 people with Parkinson’s, who will be given dapansutrile tablets for up to 12 months to assess its safety and effectiveness at reducing inflammation in the brain, which is believed to be a significant feature of the condition.

Dr Caroline Williams-Gray, a principal research associate at the University of Cambridge and an honorary consultant neurologist at Addenbrooke’s
Dr Caroline Williams-Gray, a principal research associate at the University of Cambridge and an honorary consultant neurologist at Addenbrooke’s

The trial will be led by Dr Caroline Williams-Gray, a principal research associate at the University of Cambridge and an honorary consultant neurologist at Addenbrooke’s, specialising in Parkinson’s disease, and follows the granting of an award by the UK charity Cure Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s, which is the fastest-growing neurological condition in the world, causes tremor, stiffness and slowness of movement, and follows the substantial loss of dopamine-producing cells in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra.

This loss is associated with the accumulation of α-synuclein protein, which is thought to disrupt the function of dopaminergic neurons.

Clinical symptoms of Parkinson’s show once around half of the cells are affected and problems with movement can be accompanied by anxiety, sleep disturbance, gut symptoms, cognitive problems and dementia.

Studies in the laboratory suggest abnormal α-synuclein protein leads to activation of a set of proteins called the NLRP3 inflammasome within immune cells. This leads to inflammation and cell damage.

It is hoped that dapansutrile could arrest this process, which may slow progression of the disease.

Dr Williams-Gray said: “There is a pressing need for a specific treatment, such as dapansutrile, which targets the most relevant aspects of the immune activation pathway in Parkinson’s without causing general immunosuppression and leading to unwanted side effects.

“In this trial, we aim to determine dapansutrile’s safety and tolerability in people with Parkinson’s, and to establish whether the treatment can reduce inflammation in the brain. We will also investigate whether this results in a positive effect on clinical symptoms and disease progression.”

US and European-based Olatec Therapeutics Inc owns dapansutrile. The company is developing novel oral inflammation therapeutics, known as specific NLRP3 inhibitors, to help tackle a range of inflammatory diseases.

Dr Simon Stott, director of research at Cure Parkinson’s, said: “Professor Williams-Gray and her clinical team in Cambridge has a great deal of experience researching the role of inflammation in Parkinson’s. Cure Parkinson’s was delighted to facilitate this research collaboration between Olatec and Cambridge, and we are excited to be funding this important work.”

The trial will be supported by the Neuroscience Theme of the Cambridge Clinical Trials Unit and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre.



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