The next breakthrough in Parkinson's will most likely come from a drug already used to treat another condition.

Our survey conducted to mark World Parkinson’s Day 2016 of people living with Parkinson’s, clinicians and researchers, revealed that more than a third of responders chose 'drug repurposing' as the most likely source of a breakthrough in the treatment of the condition.

Drug repurposing involves testing compounds already approved to treat other conditions but which also have compelling biochemical reasons why they may be effective in Parkinson's. Drug repurposing was one of 16 different areas of research that show promise in treating the condition all of which were listed in the survey. The study was undertaken to establish how experts in the field as well as those with experience of living with the condition perceive the overall progress being made in Parkinson’s and attracted responses from informed Parkinson's advocates, scientists and clinicians in equal measure. The survey included questions covering important issues related to both better management of the condition, as well as opinions on the proximity of finding new therapies with the capacity to slow, stop or reverse Parkinson's.

The results give further weight and credence to the emphasis placed by The Cure Parkinson's Trust on its drug-repurposing programme, which it instigated in 2012 and has since attracted funding and interest from all parts of the Parkinson's community. More than a third of the total respondents to the survey put drug repurposing in the top three most likely prospects for realising a research breakthrough in Parkinson's. Other popular answers were the disaggregation of alpha-synuclein (a damaging protein in the brain, the presence of which is common to all people with Parkinson's) - 35% and cell therapy - 27%.

Other questions posed in the survey revealed that 86% of respondents suggested exercise as the best means of people with Parkinson's maintaining their own health (other than standard drug treatments). Other recommendations were to continue social, mental and physical activities as much as possible (47%) and a healthy diet (33%). For those newly diagnosed with Parkinson's, 49% of respondents highlighted the importance of asking questions about and establishing an appropriate treatment plan. 46% also advised the newly diagnosed to investigate how to make the best of their lives themselves, without relying on others to do so, whereas 28% suggested making enquiries into the latest relevant research and appropriate clinical trials in which to participate.