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Efficacy of Investigational Parkinson’s Disease Drug Determined Via Brain Scans

December 14, 2010

Over the years,  it has been difficult to determine the immediate effect medication has on a Parkinson’s disease patient’s brain. Researchers have used positron emission tomography (PET) to measure blood flow. PET scans are costly, however, and not every medical facility has a PET scanner. Recently, Kevin J. Black, MD, and colleagues used arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a type of perfusion MRI, to determine how an investigational medication (SYN115) enters a patient’s brain and affects blood flow in key areas of the brain, both of which might be indicative of the medication’s efficacy. Perfusion MRI provides a relative and/or absolute measurement of the parameters of cerebral microvascularisation: regional blood volume, mean transit time, and regional blood flow.

Black and colleagues were studying 21 Parkinson’s disease patients who were being treated with levodopa but no other agonists. The patients were broken into 2 groups: one received just levodopa, the other received levodopa and SYN115 20 mg or 60 mg. At the end of each treatment period, they reviewed the MRIs of the patients receiving levodopa and compared them to the patients receiving levodopa and SYN115. They found that patients taking both medications had decreased blood flow in specific brain structures, with the biggest decrease being found in the thalamus.

Black and colleagues believe that perfusion MRI can provide physicians with rapid, quantitative, clinically relevant dose-finding information, because it is a better method of comparing brain activity over longer periods of time.

Funding for this research was supported by Synosia Therapeutics and grants from the NIH, the American Parkinson Disease Association’s Advance Research Center for Parkinson Disease at Washington University and the Greater St. Louis Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association. (J Neurosci. 2010;30(48):16284-16292.) —Christopher Naccari

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From → Pharmacotherapy

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