Man in an MRI scanner

Positive step towards improving clinical trials with brain scans


We're delighted to announce that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is officially supporting the use of a particular type of brain scan to help people in the earliest stages of Parkinson's to participate in clinical trials.

This is a step towards improving the way that Parkinson's treatments are tested in clinical trials, and is the first major success for the Critical Path for Parkinson's.

The Critical Path is a collaborative consortium of researchers, drug companies and regulators. It was formed by Parkinson's UK and the Critical Path Institute and launched in October 2015.

Using brain scans to improve clinical trials

Currently, up to 1 in 10 people taking part in clinical trials of new Parkinson's treatments may not have the condition at all.

This makes it difficult to assess the effect of the treatment and could mean worthwhile treatments are being unfairly discarded.

The problem is most likely to affect trials that involve people in the early stages of the condition as this is when misdiagnosis is most likely.

These brain scans could prevent people without Parkinson's from taking part, making the studies more efficient.

But so far, regulators like the EMA, who govern how clinical trials are carried out, have not allowed them to be used to select the right people to take part in clinical trials.

What difference will this make?

Our Director of Research, Dr Arthur Roach, comments:

"The support from European Medicines Agency for the use of brain scans is a critical step towards changing the way clinical trials of new treatments for Parkinson's are done globally.

"We hope this is the first of many successes for our Critical Path for Parkinson's consortium, and that it will ultimately speed up the process of delivering new treatments that are so desperately needed.

"There is still some work to do to make sure the use of brain scans is officially adopted by these regulatory bodies but we're extremely positive that this will be complete before the end of 2017."

Read the EMA's letter of support, issued on 7 October 2016.