Cancer drug could be used to treat Parkinson's disease

4 Aug 2017

University of Queensland research team will investigate the potential of repurposing a new blood cancer drug to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Richard Gordon from UQ’s School of Biomedical Sciences is chief investigator on a grant from The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT), allowing researchers to  test the promising drug in preclinical models of  Parkinson’s.

“Our research indicates this drug has the potential to block the cycle of chronic inflammation and neuropathology that has been linked to the progression of the disease,” he said.

It is the first time an Australian research group has been awarded a research grant from CPT, a UK-based organisation which has assembled an expert international committee to prioritise existing drugs that may be potentially suitable for repurposing in Parkinson’s.

CPT’s Research and Development director, Dr Richard Wyse said the charity was working to slow, stop or even reverse the neurodegenerative progression of Parkinson’s disease.

“This drug has already been shown to be effective in treating several forms of blood cancer, and also displays considerable theoretical promise for the long-term management of Parkinson’s disease,” he said.

“We are delighted The University of Queensland will examine this possibility and take it to the next stage.”

Dr Gordon said because the drug had already been approved for human use, it would enable clinical trials in Parkinson’s patients to be fast-tracked.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, which affects 80,000 Australians and more than five million people worldwide.

Shake it Up Australia founder Clyde Campbell welcomed the research and said it could make a real difference to people’s lives.

“It’s exciting to see research advancing in existing drugs which are already approved for use in people, and brings us one step closer to improved treatments for those with Parkinson’s,” he said.

The UQ team was awarded the CPT grant of  AUD $ 319,169 for two years.

Media: Sam Benger, +61 7 3365 5118