Can a new treatment be within our grasp?
We know that people with Parkinson’s can have lower levels of a chemical called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in the brain, helping people to focus and concentrate. Not having enough of it causes mobility, movement and memory issues, which are common symptoms of Parkinson’s.
After success in a small-scale trail, Dr Alison Yarnall and her team of researchers are testing whether a small, handheld device can boost the amount of acetylcholine in the brain and lead to a new treatment for Parkinson’s.
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Why is boosting acetylcholine important?
We need acetylcholine to do everyday tasks like moving or thinking. Not having enough of it affects our concentration. This makes it difficult to do things like walking, as our bodies need to balance and move at the same time.
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. So we’re investing in a promising research project that could do just that.
Watch the video below to find out more.
This video was filmed prior to lockdown in March.
Bringing life-changing treatments closer
Dr Alison Yarnall and her team at Newcastle University, will be testing whether a small, handheld device can boost the amount of acetylcholine that the brain produces. The device does this by stimulating the vagus nerve that connects the gut and the brain.
The device is non-invasive and can be used at home without the help of medical professionals, meaning participants don’t have to undergo surgery, or even take a drug, to test this promising treatment.
In this clinical trial, 40 people with Parkinson’s will test if using the device twice a day improves their mobility, balance and memory. Half of the participants will be using a placebo device. Their movements will be monitored and after 12 weeks, they will be reassessed to see if their symptoms have improved compared to those using the placebo.
What's promising about this trial?
In a previous smaller study, participants did see an improvement in their symptoms after using the device just once. Dr Yarnall is cautiously optimistic that these results could be replicated in this trial.
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 without having to go through years of testing.
If the clinical trial showed positive results, then it would be followed by a larger scale trail. If this research did lead to a new treatment it would be truly groundbreaking.
In a recent study we asked over 1000 people affected by Parkinson’s, what research they wanted us to focus on to improve their quality of life. Preventing falls and improving balance was number 1. Uncontrollable movements and memory problems were also high priorities. We know how important finding better treatments for mobility, movement and memory issues are for people living with Parkinson’s today.
We believe this research has the potential to bring real life-changing breakthroughs for people with Parkinson’s. And you can support it.