Broadcasting legend and Parkinson's UK celebrity ambassador David ‘Kid’ Jensen is taking part in a world-first clinical trial. The trial will help researchers understand if an anti-sickness drug could treat hallucinations in people with Parkinson’s or Lewy body dementia.
Parkinson’s UK has partnered with University College London and invested £1.1m in a pioneering phase 2 clinical trial, TOP HAT. The trial is investigating if the drug ondansetron is beneficial, safe and effective at alleviating hallucinations in people with Parkinson’s.
The medications that are currently available to treat visual hallucinations are far from ideal as they can worsen Parkinson’s symptoms or have serious side effects.
Ondansetron is currently used to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. As an already licensed low-cost drug, if the research shows significant outcomes, ondansetron could be available for people with Parkinson's who experience hallucinations within the next few years.
David ‘Kid’ Jensen said:
"I am part way through participating in a world-first clinical trial that has left me feeling empowered and hopeful for future treatments for Parkinson’s, and I want to encourage others with the condition, or Lewy body dementia, to sign up. I also want to call on those who have loved ones with these conditions to encourage them to consider taking part in this and other pioneering research.
"Since being diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2011, I have discovered that it’s a condition that is full of surprises. Although hallucinations aren’t something that most people identify with the condition, around three-quarters of people with Parkinson’s may experience them at some point.
"From going to pet a dog who doesn’t really exist while out walking, to ‘bumping into’ a strange figure on the stairs when I get up in the night, hallucinations are very much a part of my life. I count myself lucky that the mythical figures that appear before me are pretty friendly."
Our Chief Executive, Caroline Rassell, said:
"Although 2 people in the UK are told they have Parkinson's every hour, it remains a little understood condition. That’s why we’re so grateful to all our incredibly passionate celebrity supporters. And we’re thrilled to welcome David as our first official Celebrity Ambassador, formally recognising all he has done, and continues to do, to raise the profile of the condition, the charity, and the desperate need to find new and better treatments.
"We’re so glad that David and many others are participating in the TOP HAT trial, which is looking into the effects of an already licensed low-cost drug, ondansetron, on hallucinations. If the research shows significant outcomes it could be available for people with Parkinson's or Lewy body dementia who experience hallucinations within the next few years.
"We are proud to be funding research into the most promising treatments, taking us closer to a cure every day."