Recent positive results from biotech company Anavex Life Sciences have shown that when treated with their experimental drug, blarcamesine, individuals with Parkinson’s dementia had significant improvements in both motor and cognitive symptoms.

Blarcamesine (also known as ANAVEX2-73) belongs to a class of drugs called Sigma-1 receptor activators. The Sigma-1 receptor is a protein that when activated facilitates antioxidant and neuroprotective processes in cells; and in preclinical lab models, blarcamesine has been shown to rescue models of Parkinson’s, which helped lead to the clinical testing of this drug.

Parkinson’s disease dementia has all of the classical features of Parkinson’s such as slowness of movement, rigidity and a resting tremor, but also involves a marked decline in memory and problem-solving skills. There is currently no disease-modifying therapy for the condition, and the recent announcement from Anavex Life Sciences phase 2 trial have presented some welcome news.

The trial

The clinical trial was a double blind study, meaning that none of the participants involved knew which treatment (placebo or blarcamesine) each was receiving. The participants were treated for 14 weeks, during which they were clinically assessed to determine if the treatment was having an effect.

After analysing the results, the investigators reported that blarcamesine treatment led to a significant improvement in cognitive test scores, but also an 11 point increase in motor scores in the treated group (as opposed to a 3.5 point decline in the placebo group). In the press release, the company has indicated that with these positive results they are seeking regulatory guidance on how to proceed with their clinical development of blarcamesine.

These new clinical trial results are extremely encouraging, but given the rapid improvement in symptoms it will be important to determine if this effect is actually disease-modifying or simply a symptomatic effect. Blarcamesine was prioritised by our international Linked Clinical Trials committee in 2020, and Cure Parkinson’s is keen to see it evaluated in a larger future phase 3 clinical study.

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