Could a new treatment for Parkinson's symptoms be at our fingertips?

That's what Dr Alison Yarnall and her team at Newcastle University will be investigating in this new clinical trial. They will be testing whether a small, handheld device could boost the amount of acetylcholine the brain produces. 

What is acetylcholine?

This is an important chemical that we all have in our brains. It plays an important role in helping people to focus and concentrate. 

But we know that people with Parkinson’s can have reduced levels of acetylcholine. Reduced levels of acetylcholine causes issues with mobility, thinking and memory. Which can in turn lead to an increased risk of falls. 

Boosting the levels of acetylcholine in the brain could be groundbreaking for people with Parkinson’s as it could decrease their risk of falls and improve movement and memory. 

Dr Yarnall and her team are investigating a breakthrough treatment which could boost the amount of acetylcholine the brain produces. 

Watch the video below to find out more. 

What is happening in the clinical trial?

Dr Yarnall and her team will be testing whether a small, handheld device can boost the amount of acetylcholine the brain produces. The device does this by stimulating the vagus nerve; the nerve that connects the gut and the brain. 

40 people with Parkinson’s will be taking part in the trial. First, their mobility, balance and memory will be assessed and their current level recorded. Half will then be given the device and half will be given a placebo device. They will use the device at home, twice a day, for 12 weeks. During this time, their movements will be monitored. At the end of the trial, all participants will be re-assessed to see if their symptoms have improved.

Bringing breakthroughs closer

In a previous small scale study, participants did see an improvement in their symptoms after using the device once. These promising results do need to be replicated over time, but Dr Yarnall is cautiously optimistic.

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What's next?

If the clinical trial shows a big improvement in symptoms between the test group, and the group using the placebo device, it could be a huge step forward. 

And it is already licensed for use in other conditions, such as epilepsy and migraines. So, if Dr Yarnall proves it can have a positive effect on Parkinson’s symptoms, it can be fast tracked to people with Parkinson’s who are impatient for a new treatment. 

It could mean a new treatment for common symptoms of Parkinson’s

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