Promising results from a phase II study for people with early-stage Parkinson’s

A phase II clinical trial of tavapadon, a drug developed by Cerevel Therapeutics, has shown improvements in movement symptoms. The results have been announced on the company website.

A phase II clinical trial of tavapadon, a drug developed by Cerevel Therapeutics, has shown improvements in movement symptoms. The results have been announced on the company website.

Cerevel Therapeutics, sponsored by Pfizer, carried out a clinical trial to investigate the potential of a new drug called tavapadon to improve movement symptoms in people with early-stage Parkinson’s. Half of the 57 participants received the drug and half received the placebo, taking the drug orally once a day. 

What are dopamine agonists? 

In Parkinson’s, dopamine producing brain cells are lost over time. Current medication relies on its ability to boost dopamine levels in the brain to help manage symptoms. Tavapadon is an example of a dopamine agonist, a type of drug that is used in Parkinson’s, which mimics the way dopamine works. But existing dopamine agonists can have side effects in some people - such as impulsive and compulsive behaviours. Tavapadon is a new dopamine agonist that is being investigated as a potential treatment for Parkinson's. 

Improving symptoms 

The phase II study identified a dose of tavapadon that is safe for people with Parkinson’s where they didn’t observe any severe side effects. The results also show the drug appears to be effective in improving movement symptoms in people with early-stage Parkinson’s. The researchers also looked at other non-movement symptoms such as sleep but didn’t find any improvement. The company plans to start a phase III trial in 2020 to investigate the benefits of tavapadon in people with early- and late-stage Parkinson’s.

Dr Katherine Fletcher, Research Communications Officer at Parkinson's UK, said: 

“Current treatments for Parkinson’s are not good enough, they often come with unwanted side effects. This research is exciting, offering hope for a potential treatment that could manage movement symptoms with possibly fewer side effects than existing dopamine agonists.

"The phase III trial is needed to better assess whether tavapadon is beneficial to a larger number of people and over a longer period of time. It will be interesting to see whether the drug is beneficial to people at different stages of the condition."

Read more about dopamine agonists

Read a blog post that explains the science behind medications that mimic the effect of dopamine in the brain — dopamine agonists.