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August 13,
2001

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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Study examines Parkinson's patch

Results from the first large-scale study of a skin patch treatment for Parkinson's disease show that the patch method seems to be as effective as traditional oral medications in treating the disease.

The findings were presented recently in Helsinki at the International Conference on Parkinson's Disease. Karl Kieburtz, professor of neurology, is a lead investigator of the study that includes 242 patients at 36 sites around North America.

"Patients have access to skin patches for heart disease, for smoking cessation, for motion sickness, and for pain control. We believe this is the first time that a neurodegenerative disorder has been treated with a patch," says Kieburtz.

Each participant in the study wore four skin patches that were replaced once each day. Doctors followed patients' progress for three months, noting improvements in motor skills and tracking side effects.

When compared to patients who received a placebo, patients in the study who received the medication improved an average of 20 to 30 percent on a scale that measures how the disease affects activities of daily life: walking, talking, flexibility in the arms and legs, motion control, and other motor skills. Participants were in the early stages of the disease; most had been diagnosed within 18 months of the study.

"Many groups are exploring new ways of delivering Parkinson's drugs, and this is the first to show success in a large study," says Kieburtz. "There's an active worldwide effort to deliver medicines in new ways besides by mouth, especially since the digestive tract of patients with Parkinson's is affected by the disease."

At Rochester the study was coordinated through the Department of Neurology's Clinical Trials Coordination Center and the Division of Experimental Therapeutics, where physicians are trained to design and interpret studies of potential new treatments to neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases.



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