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February 5, 2019

UK trial uses sensors to assess liver drug for Parkinson’s

A new clinical trial led by the University of Sheffield in the UK has been initiated to evaluate the use of a liver drug called ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) in treating Parkinson’s disease.

Instead of a typical clinical scale, the pilot trial will use 31P MRI-Spectroscopy and specially designed sensors to monitor the drug’s effectiveness.

UDCA has been in use for more than three decades to treat liver disease.

After screening 2000 drugs, the research team identified UDCA as the most promising candidate for the direct rescue effect on mitochondrial function in the tissue of Parkinson’s patients.

The trial will investigate the safety and tolerability of the drug, along with its ability to slow down Parkinson’s progression.

Sheffield Insitute for Translational Neuroscience professor Oliver Bandmann said: “After nearly a decade of research we are extremely pleased to launch the first clinical trial of UDCA in Parkinson’s patients to see if the drug is safe and tolerated.

“This is a pilot trial, which if successful, will lead to a bigger study to firmly establish the effectiveness of the treatment to slow down progression of Parkinson’s.”

Bandmann added that a drug that can slow down the disease would enhance the quality of life for patients.

31P MRI-Spectroscopy will be used to quantify the mitochondrial function in order to examine UDCA’s capability to normalise the function of the affected brain tissue.

The specially designed bio-sensors will be used to measure the drug’s effect on a patient’s motor impairment and its potential to slow down disease progression.

Patients will wear the sensors at the beginning and end of the trial, which will take place at two centres.

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