Researchers at the University of Rochester are co-leading a new clinical trial to evaluate a potential new treatment for Parkinson's disease.
The Phase 3 study will do further tests on a drug called Isradipine, which is normally prescribed for high blood pressure.
UR Medicine neurologist Kevin Biglan, M.D., says earlier trials of the drug show some improvement in motor function and quality of life.
He says most of the current medications for Parkinson's only treat the symptoms of the disease.
"The disease itself continues to progress. The brain cells continue to dysfunction and die. While the treatments we have are reasonably good initially, over time people develop progressive disability with about 45 percent of patients requiring nursing home care at some point during the disease."
Biglan says the new study will test the drug on people newly diagnosed with Parkinson's who have mild symptoms.
"It will be randomized for people to either receive either the active drug or a placebo, a sugar pill. These individuals will be followed periodically for a period of three years, looking to see whether the treatment versus the placebo results in a slowing of progression, particularly of motor symptoms."
Researchers say previous studies have shown that people taking Isradipine for high blood pressure have a lower incidence of Parkinson's disease.
They speculate that the calcium channel blocker may prevent the destruction of dopamine-producing cells in the brain.
The University of Rochester is helping to coordinate the study, which will be conducted at sites throughout the U.S. and Canada.