Parkinson Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a widespread and progressive neurodegenerative disorder resulting in disabling motor impairment (tremor at rest, loss or impairment of the power of voluntary movement and decreased bodily movement) which usually starts to show when a patient reaches 55–60 years of age. PD is caused by a degeneration of neurons. The disease has no cure and affects all aspects of daily living. It is the most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease, affecting around 4 million people globally. There are currently at least 500,000 Parkinson patients across Europe, with 60,000 new cases diagnosed every year. The incidence of Parkinson’s is forecast to double by 2030 (1) mainly as a result of an increasing ageing population. Treatment and management is available for a number of aspects of the disease but is not yet accessible to all.

The economic consequences of Parkinson’s across Europe are considerable. The estimated annual total cost of the disease is €13.9 billion (2) and this figure will increase as the number of people with Parkinson’s in Europe continues to grow.

Studies have shown that early drug treatment combined with therapeutic interventions can reduce the economic impact of Parkinson’s – and in some cases delay the progression of the disease, which maintains a person’s quality of life for a longer period of time (3). Therefore, further development of promising neuroprotective therapies is a key step in providing long-term benefits to patients and help to substantially reduce the costs of healthcare and caregiving.

In addition, the health impacts arising from this new neuroprotective therapy are not restricted to patients suffering from PD, but can also impact on other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or other, since they share some common characteristics with PD.

Another area where much research has been done to date is on symptomatic drugs against Parkinson disease. These drugs treat both the motor and non-motor effects of PD. There are already several such treatments available, however, these medications have side effects and do not address certain symptoms; for example, none of them help with the common problems of fatigue, constipation or balance. So, one goal is to find better symptomatic drugs.

The Primomed approach

Scientific interest has recently focused on the development of new therapeutic pharmacological compounds that would be devoid of unwanted side effects and would have a neuroprotective action early in the course of PD. Neurotrophic factors like Neuregulin (NRG) are challenging tools to modify the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons over the course of the disease and this is what Primomed will look at.

  1. Dorsey, 2007
  2. Gustavsson et al., 2011
  3. Olanow, 2009