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Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease lead hope for a cure

Dr Richard Gordan and Assoc/Prof John O'Sullivan

A new clinical trial at Wesley Medical Research aims to balance gut bacteria and significantly improve debilitating symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease including constipation and gut dysfunction.

Preliminary work by Wesley Medical Research and The University of Queensland researchers Dr Richard Gordon and Associate Professor John O’Sullivan, has shown that managing common first symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as constipation and other gastrointestinal disturbances, can lead to better overall management of this disease.

“We have observed that most Parkinson’s patients have a significant reduction in the Faecalibacterium prausnitzii bacteria, which is one of the most abundant and important good gut bacteria in our gut,” Dr Gordon said.

Dr Gordon and Associate Professor O’Sullivan’s research has shown, in pre-clinical trials, that by increasing Faecalibacterium prausnitzii levels, the treatment of these non-motor symptoms, are greatly improved.

“For our Phase III clinical trial, we will administer a dose of an oral supplement. It is our hope that once gut health has improved in Parkinson’s patients, the long-term restoration of this bacteria will slow disease progression and enable doctors to focus on managing other Parkinson’s symptoms.”

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month and on Sunday 11th of April, World Parkinson’s Day aimed to shed light on the devastating effects of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system, resulting in damage to nerve cells in the brain and leading to problems with movement. It is estimated that one in every 340 people in Australia live with Parkinson’s, for an average of 70,000 people. Sadly, the number of Australians living with Parkinson’s continues to grow.

“Our research will enable new treatments and better management of symptoms in Parkinson’s disease patients,” Dr Gordon said.

Wesley Medical Research CEO Dr Claudia Giurgiuman said that the research has the potential to save lives and lessen the financial burden of those living with this disease.

“The research done already shows promising potential to make a significant impact on the lives of those living with Parkinson’s disease. This next clinical trial phase is very exciting and we hope to see real results in the near future,” Dr Giurgiuman said.

Dr Gordon and Associate Professor John O’Sullivan’s work received over $1.7 million in funding through Wesley Medical Research’s generous donors, and from Advance Queensland through the Queensland Drug Repurposing Initiative that aims to accelerate clinical trials for neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s by testing whether existing drugs can be used for different purposes.

“We are grateful for your support in advancing medical research. Australians diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease could have better outcomes in the near future as a result of our work and we could not have conducted this research without you,” Dr Giurgiuman said.

Project partners include, Shake It Up Australia Foundation, New Zealand nutraceutical ingredients company Anagenix Ltd and Brisbane-based biotechnology company Microba Life Sciences.


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