Parkinson’s Disease Research Unit
The Parkinson’s Disease Research Unit focuses on conducting clinical research to find new treatments for patients at all stages of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson's disease affects 1% of the population over the age of 65, but can also develop in people at a much younger age. The key symptoms are tremor, stiffness and slowness of movement. It can also be associated with a number of other "non-motor" symptoms, including depression, sleep disturbance, fatigue and cognitive impairment.
There are effective symptomatic drug treatments available for many aspects of Parkinson's disease but there are still many areas of unmet need such as therapy for neuroprotection or mobility problems.
Based at Charing Cross Hospital, the Unit is made up of consultant neurologists, a Parkinson’s disease nurse specialist and two trial coordinators and three principal investigators. Our goal is to focus on identifying the right Parkinson’s disease trials for our patients who have indicated an interest in taking part in clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease. A continuous interest from our patients means we are a research active unit.
The Unit conducts clinical drug trials of potential new medications for Parkinson’s disease as well as non-drug trials for better understanding the disease. These clinical research efforts are directed at patients at different stages of Parkinson’s disease and to recruit patients and carers. The Unit also facilitates trials on behalf of commercial sponsors.
We collaborate with international pharmaceutical companies for the development of new drugs but we also have strong clinical and research collaborations with other research teams within the Division of Brain Sciences at Imperial College London and with clinicians at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust on key areas of expertise such as functional neurosurgery for movement disorders, neuro-otology and balance, memory, and sleep disorders.
We also collaborate with the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London to develop and validate devices to quantify and monitor motor symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.
Finally, we have access to the Imanova Imaging Centre at Imperial College London to perform imaging studies with positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to uncover the mechanisms underlying motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Equipment available at the Unit includes two beds, height and weight measurement facilities, ECG machines (sponsor provided and therefore trial specific), and equipment to measure vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate etc). The unit does not accommodate overnight stays for any of the trials conducted here as we operate during normal working hours. However, we have 2 clinical rooms and an assessment room.
What happens during the clinical research?
Your involvement within the research study may include the following activities:
- Attending the Parkinson’s Disease Research Unit for routine trial appointments (you will be reimbursed for your transport to and from appointments )
- Routine trial appointments can include investigations such as blood samples, having an MRI or PET scan, and physical examinations
- Completing motor assessments / questionnaires
- Taking a tablet or receiving an injection
Can I take part in a research study?
All research studies have set requirements known as inclusion and exclusion criteria. Since every research study is different, each study can have a different set of criteria which need to be met by the patient. Although you may meet the inclusion and exclusion criteria for one trial, you may not meet the criteria for another Parkinson’s disease trial. Inclusion and exclusion criteria are put in place in order to ensure that not only is the trial right for the patient, but that the patient is right for the trial. Only when a patient is able to meet all aspects of the inclusion and exclusion criteria, can the patient take part in the research study. The doctor, who is responsible for obtaining the patients’ consent to take part in the trial, is the person who will assess and determine whether the patient has met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. This is done for each patient.
What are the risks and benefits of being Involved in a Parkinson ’s disease trial?
At all stages, the best interests and wishes of the patient are paramount, but feedback received indicates that involvement in clinical trials is both popular and rewarding for the participants. At the same time, the strong research base in Imperial College London means that patients attending the neuroscience department receive “state of the art” therapies.
For many patients and their families, the opportunity to be involved in a Parkinson’s disease trial and potentially access a new treatment can be an appealing prospect. However, taking part in clinical research is not for everyone, there are both benefits and risks:
- access to new treatments
- close monitoring and support by a specialist clinical team
- a rewarding experience which can help our future generation with Parkisnons’ Disease
- the new treatment is not guaranteed to be effective
- less may be known about the side effects of a new drug
- there is a chance that you will be taking placebo medication throughout the trial along with your standard treatment
Parkinson’s disease clinical trials can be time consuming and requires commitment from the participant and usually a family member or friend can be required to also attend with the patient
How Do I get Involved in Clinical Research?
We are always keen for volunteers, with Parkinson’s, their friends and family, to join us. If you think you may be interested in taking part in Parkinson’s disease clinical research, it can be useful to talk with family and friends first.
If you are Aged 18+, please see below for current studies and follow the links. Public contribution is always very important to us for clinical research. No amount of funding or other resources can make up for a lack of volunteers.
Some patients also find it helpful to discuss options with their GP and the Movement Disorder clinic doctor (your consultant) or even the Parkinson’s Disease Nurse Specialist, David Singh, on 0203 311 1166.
You can also discuss your options with the Parkinson’s Disease Research Unit. There is no obligation to take part, and the team can answer any questions and provide more information about the specific trials available. The Research Team can be contacted on 0203 311 1714 or send an email to imperial.Parkinson.ResearchTeam@nhs.net
Alternatively the Imperial College Healthcare Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALs) is a great source of independent advice about NHS care. You can contact PALs by calling 020 3313 0088 or sending an email to imperial.PALS@nhs.net
Clinical Research and Principle Investigators
Prof. DJ Brooks, Dr. S. Molloy, Mr. D. Nandi, Dr. N. Pavese, Dr. R. Pearce, Prof. P Piccini and Dr. YF Tai
Parkinson's Disease nurse specialist
Mr. D Singh
Gita Sharma and Laura Payne
Clinical Research Fellows
Dr. A. Roussakis, Dr. Antonio
By contacting us, there will be no obligation to take part. The team can answer any questions and provide more information about the specific trials available.
Health Care Professionals We want to be more inclusive with our collaborators and we can’t do that alone. Are you a Principal Investigator, Research Nurse, Therapist or any person involved in Parkinson’s disease trials? We have monthly research meetings for updates on PD research and we welcome researchers to attend and present their projects.
Please contact imperial.Parkinson.ResearchTeam@nhs.net
How to find us
Parkinson’s Disease Research Unit
10th Floor Tower Block
Charing Cross Hospital
Tel: 0203 311 1714
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