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News in Brief

Clinical Trial of CEP-1347 Halted

Members of the Parkinson's community were disappointed to learn on May 11 that Cephalon, Inc. and H. Lundbeck A/S had decided to discontinue Phase II/III trials of CEP-1347, a compound that interferes with cell death. Cephalon announced that a planned review of interim results showed that efficacy was unlikely, although there were no safety concerns. This agent was being investigated for its neuroprotective potential in slowing the progression of early Parkinson's.

The clinical trial of CEP-1347, which had enrolled 800 patients at 65 sites in the U.S. and Canada, was conducted by the Parkinson Study Group (PSG). PSG is a non-profit, cooperative group of Parkinson's disease experts from medical centers in the United States and Canada who are dedicated to improving treatment for persons affected by Parkinson's.

Cephalon's senior vice president and president of research and development, Dr. Jeffry L. Vaught, expressed disappointment over the results and also stated that Cephalon would continue its partnership with H. Lundbeck A/S to develop treatments for neurodegenerative disorders.

Report from the 2005 MDS Congress

The Movement Disorder Society (MDS) held its 9th International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders in New Orleans from March 5 to 8. Here we summarize just three of the more interesting reports.

A group in Tokyo led by Dr. Y. Mizuno reported on a biomarker for evaluating the progression of Parkinson's. The study measured a compound that has been used to evaluate oxidative stress, 8-hydroguanosine (8-OHdG), in the urine of 72 PD patients (and these levels were compared to those of healthy patients). Previous studies have shown that mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress play a role in the development of Parkinson's. The authors reported that the mean urinary 8-OHdG increased with the stage of PD and was not influenced by the patient's current dosage of levodopa, suggesting the compound could be a useful test for evaluating the progression of PD.

In another presentation, Drs. J.C. Sharma and M. Vassallo from the United Kingdom presented data from a seven-year study of 224 patients which showed that occurrence of dyskinesias seemed to be statistically related to the dosage of levodopa and that lower weight predisposes a person to these movements. The authors concluded that low-weight patients should be preferentially targeted for dopamine agonist drugs, deferring and reducing the level of levodopa intervention.

Finally, doctors from Nashville and Winston-Salem found that people with Parkinson's who undergo the surgical procedure known as deep brain stimulation experience hip fractures at half the rate of com- parable patients who do not have the surgery. Dr. C. Schadt reported on the study, which found a hip fracture rate of 8.1 percent among the 42 Parkinson's patients who had surgery, compared with 15.9 percent among those who did not, suggesting that the better mobility derived from deep brain stimulation may protect patients against such falls.