Based on the wealth of evidence that inflammation plays a key role in diseases of the central nervous system, it is thought this line of treatment has significant potential to slow or stop disease progression in Parkinson's (PD). A University of Queensland research team will investigate the potential to repurpose a cancer drug, to treat Parkinson’s disease, and following the approval of The Cure Parkinson's Trust (CPT) grant, researchers will test this promising blood cancer drug to treat PD in preclinical models.

Repurposing of clinically approved drugs with promising therapeutic approaches for PD treatment within our Linked Clinical Trials initiative is a key focus of our research with drugs such as Nilotinib, more recently Bydureon and Isradipine being brought into clinical trials as disease modifying therapies.

Chronic inflammation in the brains of people with Parkinson's has been shown to occur in response to persistent synuclein-rich protein aggregation, and ongoing inflammation in the brain can exacerbate the loss of dopamine-producing neurons and drive the progression of the disease. Therefore blocking the inflammation cycle is thought to be a promising potential disease-modifying therapeutic strategy for PD.

Chief Investigator Dr Richard Gordon from the School of Biomedical Sciences said

Our research indicates that this drug has the potential to block the cycle of chronic inflammation and neuropathology that has been linked to the progression of the disease.

It is the first time an Australian research group has been awarded a research grant from CPT under our international Linked Clinical Trials initiative.

Dr Richard Wyse, CPT’s Director of Research & Development said,

The mission of our international charity is to slow, stop or even reverse the year-on-year neurodegenerative progression of Parkinson’s. Cancer drugs show considerable theoretical promise to change the underlying course of Parkinson’s and providing evidence to support the theory is key. We are delighted that an excellent team at the University of Queensland will examine this possibility and take it to the next stage.

Given the central role of chronic NLRP3 activation in driving synuclein pathology and dopaminergic degeneration, the proposed study will evaluate the potential of repurposing this already clinically approved cancer drug in preclinical PD models and will it is hoped provide the therapeutic rationale to advance it towards clinical testing for PD management.

As CPT's COO, Helen Matthews says, 'It is the mission of The Cure Parkinson's Trust to leave no stone unturned in the route to cure this disease'. This research takes us a step further along that route.