Volunteer and Help Find a Cure for PD!
As promised in the last post, today I will discuss our experiences with clinical trials and the Fox Trial Finder (FTF) web application. But first, are you on Fox Trial Finder? If not, click on this link and sign up today! Currently there are 475 trials listed on FTF taking place in locations around the world. They include interventional trials (reducing tremor or dyskinesia, Tai Chi for balance, tele-medicine, etc.) and observational trials (bio markers, brain mapping, genetic research, wearable devices to measure PD, etc.). When you sign up for FTF you create a profile with information such as length of time with PD, medications, symptoms, and how far you are willing to travel to participate. FTF then matches you to trials that fit your profile. And don’t forget, most trials need control volunteers too so sign up your family and friends! Ready to sign up? Click on this link now! I’ll be here when you come back.
Welcome back! Mara and I recently participated in an observational study titled LRRK2 and Other Novel Exosome Proteins in Parkinson’s Disease conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The main purpose of this study is to determine whether there are biomarkers associated with Parkinson’s disease susceptibility and/or progression in exosome-proteomes derived from PD patients that will assist with future LRRK2 inhibitor clinical trials. You can read the full description here on FTF but it’s not exactly written in layman’s terms. (Maybe this could be a simple change to the process?)
After arriving at the UAB Medical Campus we were met by Rachel Clark who is coordinating the research study. She went over the research protocol and we signed the consent forms; she then asked us questions about our general health and medications we take. We both completed the Uniform Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) patient questionnaire and we were each given the Montreal Cognitive assessment. Then we took the Parkinson’s Smell Test which Mara did fine on and, surprise surprise, I didn’t. Out of 40 samples I got 10 correct while Mara got 37. I was able to identify two odors and the rest were just lucky guesses. I was also given the general physical tests for PD (tap your fingers & toes, walk down the hall, etc.) and we both provided blood and urine samples. That was it! One and a half hours and we had provided them with the necessary information and samples and completed our first clinical trial! It wasn’t time consuming, I didn’t have to worry about receiving a placebo or changing my medications, and I was only poked enough to provide 1 ounce of blood.
Many of the trials listed on FTF are observational studies like this one and seven are web based like the other trial I am participating in – Smartphone-PD. All of them provide valuable information in the search for a cure and all need participants. Did you click on that link yet?
Smartphone-PD is a study to see if it is feasible for participants to download, install, and use an Android smartphone application to track data related to Parkinson disease symptoms. (Note: only available for Android phones) They hope to measure daily variability of movement and mobility characteristics of PD patients. The data is collected by completing voice and movement tests using my cell phone. The results of the daily tests are encrypted and uploaded to the study team at the University of Rochester in New York. The application will also monitor my daily activity if I keep my phone in my pocket.
I found this trial here on Fox Trial Finder and signing up is all done online. I reviewed the study plan and the consent form which includes the disclaimer that this study is purely for research purposes, so they will not be able to provide clinical advice for individuals with PD. Therefore, no adjustments to medications or appointments with a neurologist will be made as a part of the study. After electronically signing the consent form, I received an email with a link to the application which I downloaded to my phone and I was ready to go.
For this study I use my phone to complete five tests twice a day for six months. The first time is in the morning prior to taking my medication and then again about an hour later. They realize that you might not be able to complete the tests on that schedule but they are OK with that as all collected data is valuable. So it’s OK to miss a test day due to travel or whatever, they still want the information.So most every morning I open the application on my phone and spend five minutes completing the tests which include a voice test, a balance test, a gait test, a dexterity test and a reaction test. The results are sent off and I take my medications, have breakfast and try to remember to repeat the test an hour or so later. This study is actively recruiting on FTF or the Parkinson’s Voice site. Both PwP’s and controls are needed. You can also contact Denzil Harris, the research coordinator by email or phone him at 585-275-2791 for more information.
See, getting involved in a clinical trial is not as difficult as one might think, even if you live in a small town or aren’t close to a research center . Using Fox Trial Finder to identify trials you might be eligible for takes just a little bit of your time and the rewards are many including that good feeling of being involved in the quest for a cure. As I have said before, while patients and researchers work to change the current process, there are still many trials that need participants. If we don’t participate, we will continue to rely on a drug discovered almost 50 years ago that only treats some of our symptoms. With 475 possible trials listed, I bet you can find one that interests you, so click on this link and join over 39,000 others on Fox Trial Finder today!
(Updated 12/11 to add the links to Fox Trial Finder so it shows up in mobile device view with thanks to the Cure Parkinson’s Trust )