The 2019 Linked Clinical Trials (LCT) meeting was held at the end of August in Grand Rapids, Michigan where the annual 'Grand Challenges in Parkinson's Disease' and patient-led 'Rallying to the Challenge' symposiums took place. This annual LCT event is a collaborative effort between The Cure Parkinson's Trust (CPT) and the Van Andel Institute (VAI) primarily designed to repurpose existing medications that have potential to change the course of Parkinson’s progression.             

The international Linked Clinical Trials meeting is the main event of the year for CPT. It is a two day meeting at which we invite our committee of world leading scientists and physicians all experts in their field of Parkinson's research, to gather at the Van Andel Institute to evaluate a set of 20+ dossiers. Also in attendance were advocates and representatives from the Parkinson's Foundation, Parkinson's UK, the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Garvan Institute. Each dossier contains everything that is known about a particular compound that has  a) demonstrated efficacy in models of Parkinson's, and b) ideally been tested in humans before. During the meeting, the LCT committee decide which of these drugs should be prioritised for clinical evaluation. Once prioritised, it is then the task of CPT to get that therapy into clinical trial.

This year's LCT meeting was a tremendous success. The event demonstrated not only the progress that has been made by the initiative over the last eight years, but also prioritised another set of exciting molecules that will now be clinically tested in Parkinson's for their disease modifying potential.

The meeting began with an overview and review of the progress that has been made by the current clinical trials programme, which includes 16 compounds in 17 clinical trials. The overview included updates of the following trials:

 - The Ambroxol trial has finished and the results will be published soon. Find out more about Ambroxol here.

- The EPI589 study has finished and the results will be published soon.

- The Exenatide/Bydureon Phase III trial will be starting soon. Find out more here.

- The Simvastatin trial in the UK will be finishing next year (2020). Find out more here.

- The Deferiprone study in France will be finishing next year (2020). Find out more here.

- The Liraglutide trial in California will be finishing next year (2020). Find out more here.

- The Lixisenatide Study in France is proceeding according to plan. Find out more here.

- The Nilotinib trial in the US is proceeding according to plan. Find out more here.

- The UDCA trial in the UK is underway and recruitment is nearly complete. Find out more here.

Prof Antony Cooper of the Garvan Institute provided an update on the progress being made on the Australian Parkinson's Mission, which The Cure Parkinson's Trust is supporting. The planned multi-arm clinical trial - which forms a key component of the project, evaluating four LCT selected drugs - will be starting soon. The preparations for the study are proceeding well and we look forward to more progress in 2020. Read more...

There were also very interesting LCT committee discussion sessions around important topics such as trial design and patient selection; the use of placebos (should the placebo be active or neutral?); and assessment/end points (the use of new biomarkers and wearable assessment technology) - all key components of clinical trials.

On the second day of the meeting, the LCT committee evaluated dossiers that had been written about 20 compounds which have demonstrated the potential for disease modification in models of Parkinson's. They prioritised five of these therapies for clinical evaluation. The task of The Cure Parkinson's Trust (in partnership with the Van Andel Institute) is to now begin setting up clinical trials to test these drugs in people with Parkinson's.

The discussions and decisions of the LCT meeting are confidential, and as a result we do not make the results of the meeting public. This is primarily because much of the information being discussed is of a confidential nature and is not in the public domain. As clinical trials are initiated, we will provide explanations as to why each treatment is being tested.

 Dr Simon Stott, CPT's Deputy Director of Research said:

"This was my second LCT meeting, and while last year I was inspired by the dynamic discussions in the room between the clinicians and the patient advocates about each compound being evaluated, this year I was really impressed with the progress that is being made by the overall initiative. 16 compounds in 17 clinical trials is simply remarkable!"

Chair of the LCT committee, Professor Patrik Brundin, said,

This year was a particularly poignant gathering as the first generation of prioritised compounds first discussed back in Grand Rapids in 2012 have either finished their trials or are nearing completion. These results will inform our ongoing work and we look forward to sharing more information as it becomes available.

This year, Professor David Devos joined the LCT committee, bringing with him a wealth of experience. Based in the Department of Neurology, Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire de Lille, Professor Devos specialises in Medical Pharmacology. His main research interests are preclinical and clinical studies of disease-modifying strategies in neurodegenerative disease, particularly Parkinson's, for which he received several prizes including the European Pharmacology Scientific Award EACPT, and he has had over 175 papers published. Professor Devos has participated in 29 studies including 14 multicentre trials and 14 as coordinator including the large European clinical trial FAIRPARK 2 investigating the effects of removing iron in the body on the progression of Parkinson's. Professor Devos said:

Becoming a member of the Linked Clinical Trials committee is a wonderful opportunity to be further committed in the development of upcoming disease modifying strategies for people with Parkinson's disease.

Professor Patrik Brundin said:

We are thrilled to have Prof. David Devos join the Linked Clinical Trials committee. He brings a wealth of experience in the design, administration and conduct of trials as well as a deep commitment to finding disease-modifying therapies for Parkinson’s disease.