Published May 22, 2012
Clinical trials are central to Parkinson's disease (PD) treatment breakthroughs and, ultimately, a cure. Unfortunately, 30 percent of clinical trials fail to recruit a single volunteer. Recruitment difficulties plague the vast majority of trials, resulting in greater expenses and delayed action, but by participating in a clinical study, you can be part of the solution.
Observational and interventional trials
There are two main kinds of clinical studies: interventional and observational. Interventional studies assess a treatment's effectiveness and safety. Observational studies, on the other hand, monitor the health of volunteers over an extended period, resulting in a deeper comprehension of PD.
Trials can bring a better understanding of treatment and prevention, genetics, detection and how to improve one's lifestyle with PD. Fewer than 10 percent of people with PD participate in these trials, a statistic which prompted actor and PD-advocate Michael J. Fox to suggest, "You may be the answer you're looking for."
Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI)
PPMI is a landmark research project expediting the advancement of medical research. Since there is currently no method for diagnosing PD before symptoms appear, scientists are working to uncover a biomarker.
By the time Fox noticed that his pinky was twitching one morning (a simple symptom of Parkinson's), 80 percent of his dopamine-producing cells were already gone. Lack of dopamine causes motor skills to deteriorate. If doctors had a cholesterol-type test for PD to identify at-risk people, they would have the ability to start treating patients before the disease progresses too far.
Most clinical trials seek to hone existent treatments. The ultimate goal of PPMI is to aid in finding a cure. Fox has described PPMI as "the most exciting piece of research out there."
Researchers have taken great strides in other studies. Neuroscientists at the University of California-San Diego launched a clinical trial of Coenzyme Q10 intervention in early-stage PD sufferers. This natural intervention appeared to counter the acceleration of PD.
Kira Schmid, a doctor of naturopathic medicine and director of Scientific Affairs for Life Extension, explained, "In this multicenter controlled study, 80 patients with early PD, not requiring treatment, were randomly assigned to a placebo or to CoQ10 at dosages of 300, 600, or 1,200 mg per day for 16 months or until disability required drug treatment."
Placebo patients indicated worsening PD than those with CoQ10. Conversely, the high-dose patients exhibited a lesser deterioration of motor skill function overtime.
Further trials are needed, however, to corroborate these results.
Scientists have identified more than 10 different genes and several environmental factors that might affect one's risk of developing PD. Therefore, neurologist and Ohio State professor Sandra Kostyk said, "We can not necessarily lump all Parkinson's patients together in trials and expect the same response in everyone."
To make advancements in PD research, experts suggest that a wide array of people participate in clinical studies, ranging from people with PD (at all stages) to people without PD.
Although financial donations for medical research are critical to success, active involvement is crucial too. You can search for clinical trials that are appropriate for you at Fox Trial Finder, PD Trials or NIH Exploratory Trials in Parkinson's Disease.