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Drug trial raises hope for Parkinson's patients

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Parkinson’s disease sufferers experiencing psychosis could benefit from being treated with a new drug, the results of a new trial suggest.

An estimated 10 million people worldwide have Parkinson’s disease with more than half of them at some point experiencing debilitating psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.

It is hoped pimavanserin, a non-dopaminergic drug, could offer the first safe and effective treatment for the symptoms.

The drug works by blocking serotonin receptors in the part of the brain that is associated with visual hallucinations and delusions.

The trial involved 199 patients with Parkinson’s disease psychosis being given a daily 40mg dose of pimavanserin or a placebo for six weeks.

At the end of the trial 37% of the patients who had been taking pimavanserin showed a significant improvement in their psychotic symptoms compared to only 14% of those given the placebo.

Professor Clive Ballard, of King’s College London, said the patients and those caring for them had seen the “clinical benefits” of pimavanserin.

Professor Ballard and his colleagues say the results suggest that the drug could also have the potential to treat the psychotic symptoms that are common in Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

The results of the team’s phase 3 randomised trial of the drug have been published in The Lancet.


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