Image of blood samples in the lab

Promising early results for potential new treatment for Parkinson's

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The pharmaceutical company Biogen has presented promising initial results from trials testing a potential new treatment for Parkinson's which targets the alpha-synuclein protein.

The data were presented at the International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders (MDS), held this week in Hong Kong, China.

About the potential new treatment

In the brain cells affected in Parkinson's there is a build-up of clumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein. These toxic proteins are thought to spread from cell to cell, contributing to their damage and eventual loss.

The potential new treatment developed by Biogen, BIIB054, is an antibody designed to stick to these clumps of alpha-synuclein and prevent them from spreading.

The hope is that stopping the spread of alpha-synuclein could stop the progressive loss of brain cells and prevent Parkinson's from getting worse.

What do the results show?

Results from a recent phase 1 pilot study in healthy participants and 18 people in the early stages of Parkinson's showed that BIIB054 appears to be safe and tolerable at a range of doses. These initial results also suggest that the drug is absorbed, handled and distributed in the body as expected.

These encouraging results have led to a larger phase 2 trial to further investigate the safety and potential effectiveness of three doses of BIIB054 in over 300 people with Parkinson's.

This randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study is currently recruiting people with early, untreated Parkinson's at 90 hospitals in the US, Italy and Spain.

Participants will be randomized to receive monthly doses of either BIIB054 or a placebo, directly into the blood, for two years.