Since its inception in 2005, The Cure Parkinson's Trust (CPT) has challenged the view that there is no cure for Parkinson's (PD). Our mission is to find disease-modifying treatments which slow, stop or even reverse Parkinson's. Currently, management of the condition is only symptomatic. Our goal is to discover treatments that change the way the disease progresses and transform the lives of those who live with Parkinson's. Thanks to major inroads and constant advances in our understanding of PD, new efforts to match the emerging science with innovative therapies are underway around the world. Our work is to guide, promote and sustain these efforts and ultimately find a cure.

For us, one breakthrough would be incredible, but as everyone’s Parkinson’s is different, we need multiple breakthroughs if we are to defeat Parkinson’s once and for all.

We only fund projects that can demonstrate the potential to slow, stop, or reverse Parkinson's. Much of our drive is focused on developing new treatments that will reach people living with Parkinson’s within a five year period. Understanding how these work on a cellular basis is crucial, and we are constantly screening for potential new treatments.  

Our research committee  interrogates new proposals and analyses research reports from the trials we are funding to ensure that the science is robust, progress is effective and results are disseminated rapidly. We actively encourage collaboration between scientists and foster these relationships to accelerate progress and ultimately benefit people living with PD.

The International Linked Clinical Trials Programme

The International Linked Clinical Trials programme (iLCT), spearheaded by CPT and supported by Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), Grand Rapids, Michigan, brings together world experts in PD to review the merits of potential new ‘disease-modifying’ treatments. Often, this involves drug repurposing. Each compound reviewed has different yet compelling biochemical modes of action with the potential to slow or stop long term decline in Parkinson’s. The LCT initiative brings the most promising of these treatments immediately into clinical trials once funding is secured.

Since 2012, the iLCT committee has met annually and prioritised around 50 of these radically new approaches to be tested in people with Parkinson's in specialist neurology hospitals around the world. Read more...

Our Impact - major themes:

The first of these trials involved the repurposing of an anti-diabetic drug (Exendin-4). Certain diabetes drugs influence how individual cells work in a way that we believe is highly beneficial to ailing neurons in Parkinson's. This was completed in 2013 with promising results in terms of intercepting long term PD decline. The initial study prompted further critical questions around the possible link between insulin resistance and the development of PD. The subsequent Bydureon phase ll trial yielded further promising results. Replication is the watchword in medicine and as part of this global initiative, two new trials using similar diabetes drugs (GLP-1 agonists) are currently underway in California and France, and the Bydureon phase lll trial will begins at the end of 2019, opening up this potentially important category of drugs in treating the condition.

Find out more about our on-going repurposing programme and other clinical trials.

Further reading: Korean-based Pharma Advances Clinical Trial of SR-exenatide in Parkinson's

Restoring neuronal energy - restoring function:

Mitochondrial dysfunction: In Parkinson’s neurons, energy production and use seems to be deficient and its biochemical restoration offers huge potential for slowing down Parkinson’s progression. As two mitochondria targeted drugs under the LCT global initiative, EPI-589 and MSDC-0160 move into their PD clinical trials, we now have new uniquely sensitive ways to monitor these energy processes. We believe that, for the first time ever, it will be possible to develop personalised medicine for people with Parkinson’s, with future therapies matched to their genetics and biochemistry as much as their symptoms.

Related to this area of research, we are investigating the impact of oxidation and inflammation in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's. Ongoing trials currently focus on the potential anti-oxidant effects of several drugs. One of these is currently testing Simvastatin (a cholesterol lowering treatment) for its disease-modifying potential in PD. Trials are underway in 25 centres across England. Another promising clinical trial is investigating the disease modifying potential of an iron chelation drug to remove the build-up of excess iron from neurons, which is thought to contribute to disease progression. Previously funded basic research into drugs which might reduce oxidative stress on neurons includes calcium channel blockers.

Understanding the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s to find new treatments

How does Parkinson’s first appear and how does it impact on the body at the very earliest point? One theory holds that cell-to-cell transmission of abnormal forms of the protein alpha-synuclein help drive PD progression by a process which mirrors 'prion disease', possibly even starting in the gut neurons before migrating to the brain. An immunisation trial in Austria is currently targeting this alpha-synuclein build-up in neurons in people with PD directly. Other approaches, such as introducing a bacteriophage to disaggregate alpha-synuclein within neurons, and several drugs (such as Anle 138b) we are currently investigating also offer great promise. 

Reversing Parkinson’s through regenerative medicine

Regenerative medicine offers hope for a fundamental cure. We approved funding for the University of Edinburgh stem cell research study and the TRANSEURO Trial in Cambridge. Both trials have pioneered the groundwork for future trials using stem cells in terms of patient selection and the transplant process.

Promoting neuronal growth through delivering long-term infusions of the natural brain growth (neurotrophic) factors such as GDNF with pin-point precision into the brain is another promising line of research. The infusion delivery device has been used in a ground-breaking trial in Bristol.

To help us drive our research forward, please consider donating today - your support is crucial for our work to continue - thank you.

Click here to download our helpful infographic 'Ten Routes to a Cure' which shows the key areas of research CPT is actively pursuing.