Funding boost for Parkinson’s drug trials and nursing support

Movement disorders

By Michael Woodhead

30 Jan 2019

Research into precision medicine for Parkinson’s Disease patients based on repurposed drugs has received a $30 million research boost from the Medical Research Future Fund.

The federal government says it is providing $30 million over five years to the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, to trial ‘off label’ use of drugs such as salbutamol to reduce the progression of Parkinson’s Disease.

The Australian Parkinson’s Mission will initially recruit 300 patients to take one of four potentially disease-modifying drugs for 48 weeks. According to the Garvan Institute, drugs currently being studied for potential repurposing inParkinson’s Disease include the diabetes drug exenatide, the calcium channel blocker isradipine, bronchodilator salbutamol and a supplement inosine.

According to the Mission, “these treatments have demonstrated neuroprotective effects in preclinical experiments. By using drugs that have already passed rigorous safety and toxicology trials, the mission aims to cut the time for a potential treatment to move from the laboratory to clinical trials and to the patient.”

Study lead investigator Associate Professor Antony Cooper, Head of the Neurodegeneration and Neurogenomics Program at the Garvan Institute, says trial participants will also undergo genome sequencing, to investigate whether there are genetic aspects that can predict disease progression and response.

“The findings from our clinical trials will be integrated with analyses of patients’ genomic information and biomarkers … This will help us identify the right drug for the right patient to halt this disease.”


The trials are being co-ordinated by neurologists Professor Simon Lewis (National Trials Lead) and Associate Professor John O’Sullivan (Queensland University).

Parkinson’s disease patients will also benefit from $6.8 million funding over four years to be provided to Primary Health Networks to improve access to specialised nursing care in the community for people living with movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease.

The specialist nurses will fulfil a range of roles including providing clinical care to patients, coordinating timely access to community based care to manage acute and chronic health problems and delivery of education and information.

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