£1.375 million to rapidly accelerate Parkinson’s drug search

A philanthropic grant from the Edmond J. Safra Foundation will support the establishment of a pioneering multi-arm multi-stage (MAMS) clinical trial platform to quickly assess potential protective therapies that may slow or stop Parkinson’s progression.

Parkinson’s is a progressive condition of brain degeneration resulting in tremors, stiffness and slowness of movement. Existing treatments can alleviate the symptoms, but do not alter the course of the disease.

Co-led by the University of Plymouth and UCL, the Accelerating Clinical Treatments for Parkinson’s Disease project – to be known as the Edmond J. Safra ACT-PD Initiative – will run until 2023. During this period, the project team will design the Edmond J. Safra PD MAMS Trial Platform.

MAMS represents a new approach to clinical trial design which addresses inefficiencies in “conventional” trial models, allowing for multiple drugs to be tested simultaneously and a seamless transition from early to later stage clinical testing. Prospective therapeutics are rapidly eliminated and replaced at the early stage if they are shown not to be effective. Using this platform, 12 drugs can be initiated into a trial over five years – a process which would take 40 years and ten times as many patients using established protocols.

The project will be co-led by Professors Thomas Foltynie and Sonia Gandhi at the UCL Movement Disorders Centre and Dr Camille Carroll from the University of Plymouth, and carried out in partnership with the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit at UCL; leading Parkinson’s researchers from across the UK; people living with Parkinson’s and their care partners; and major UK Parkinson’s charities.

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