Research Studies: Parkinson's and Related Disorders

Accordion Pill for PD Patients with Fluctuations

This clinical trial is an approximately 32 week long study comparing the effectiveness of the Accordion Pill Carbidopa/Levodopa; AP CD/LD to the current FDA-approved Carbidopa/Levodopa. Patients eligible for this study should have a meaningful response to their PD medication and must have a total daily "OFF" time duration of ≥ 2 hours during the waking day. They should also not have any memory problems. This study has open label extension continuation (not placebo-controlled) study available for patients after completion of the initial study. For more information, please call (858) 822-MOVE or email mdcresearch@ucsd.edu

Enrollment estimated for July 2016

Assessing Falls in Parkinson's disease and other Movement Disorders

Dr. Irene Litvan is recruiting for a research study to validate a wearable multi-modal system in patients with an increased risk of falling. This technology could allow physicians to monitor and understand what causes certain patients to fall. Participation will consist of one study visit and two at home sessions with the multi-modal monitoring system. Patients with movement disorders may qualify for this study if they are over 50 years of age and have a history of falls. For more information please contact (858) 822-MOVE or email mdcresearch@ucsd.edu.

Not currently enrolling

Biomarkers for PD-related cognitive problems

Dr. Joanne Hamilton in the UC San Diego Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) is recruiting individuals with Parkinson’s disease-related cognitive problems and Dementia with Lewy bodies to take part in ongoing studies investigating biomarkers for and nonmotor symptoms of these diseases. Interested individuals should contact Christina Gigliotti, PhD, at 858-246-1243 for more information about these exciting opportunities. Link to Dr. Hamilton's publications

Clinical trial for Early PD

Dr. Irene Litvan is recruiting for a clinical trial to test an FDA approved drug for the treatment of early Parkinson’s disease. This clinical trial will be a three year long study to test Isradipine's (the drug) efficacy in slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Subjects eligible for this study include men and women over 30 years of age who are currently not taking dopaminergic medications and have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease for less than 3 years. Interested individuals should contact (858) 822-MOVE or email mdcresearch@ucsd.edu for more information and to see if you qualify. Not currently enrolling.

Cognition in PD and related disorders

Dr. J. Vincent Filoteo’s group is conducting cross sectional and longitudinal studies of cognition (e.g., memory, attention, problem solving) in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and related disorders. Their goal is to better characterize the nature of neuropsychological and psychological changes in individuals with PD as well as identify novel predictors of future cognitive decline. Please contact Dr. Filoteo's research coordinator at 858-552-8585 ext 5593 if you are interested in participating, or if you would like to refer a patient to our study. Link to Dr. Filoteo's publications

Related Publications:

  • Prospective Memory Deficits are Associated with Poorer Everyday Functioning in PD. See the pdf.
  • Validation of the Modified Fatigue Impact Scale in Parkinson's Disease. See the pdf.
  • Implicit Category Learning Performance Predicts Rate of Cognitive Decline in Nondemented Patients With Parkinson's Disease. See the pdf.

Creation of Stem Cells from Patients with Familial PD

The UCSD Movement Disorder Center is conducting a study to learn more about the Genetics of familial Parkinson disease by using skin cells from affected individuals to be transformed into pluripotent stem cells and ultimately into neurons genetically identical to patients.  We are currently seeking volunteers with either a known genetic mutation of Parkinson’s disease (e.g., LRRK2) and/or have a known family history of Parkinson’s disease. Non-UCSD patients will first need to be seen by a UCSD Movement Disorder Specialist to confirm the diagnosis and medical history. Participation will include a single skin biopsy and blood draw at our offices in La Jolla. For more information, please call (858) 822-MOVE or email mdcresearch@ucsd.edu.

Handwriting movements

Dr. Michael P. Caligiuri kinematic research studies of handwriting movements to identify writer-based sources of variability in signature authentication in movement disorders and dementia for forensic applications. Please contact Christina Gigliotti, PhD, at 858-246-1243 for more information about these exciting opportunities. Link to Dr. Caligiuri's publications.

Inosine for Early PD

This clinical trial will be a two and a half year long study to test Inosine's efficacy in slowing the progression of Parkinson's disease. Subjects eligible for this study include men and women over 30 years of age who are currently NOT taking dopaminergic medications and have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease for less than three years. Estimated start date in mid-May 2016

Isradipine for Early PD

This clinical trial will be a three year long study to test the study drug's efficacy in slowing the progression of PD. Enrollment closed.

Michael J. Fox Biomarker Study

The research study's goal is to develop a biomarker of responsiveness to quantify alpha-synuclein (a-syn) responsive T cells in Parkinson's disease (PD) patients. Eligible participants would come in for one study visit to donate blood (about two tablespoons). 

Estimated start date is September 2016

Pre-Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (Pre-PPMI)

The Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) is a landmark observational study designed to help define biomarkers, or indicators of Parkinson's disease (PD) progression. PPMI has added a new arm to the existing study that will investigate certain risk factors of PD. By better understanding risk factors, such as smell loss, doctors may be able to identify people with Parkinson’s before the onset of motor symptoms. Early detection is a crucial step in understanding the causes of PD and developing better treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

The task of identifying risk factors for PD offers friends and family of people with Parkinson’s a unique role to play in Parkinson’s research. People who are over the age of 60 and who do not have Parkinson’s are needed for this study that will assess the relationship between Parkinson’s and sense of smell. Find out if you are eligible to participate by taking this smell survey or call (877) 525-PPMI. If you have Parkinson’s disease, we need your help to reach the 10,000 people without PD who may qualify. Invite family and friends to follow their noses to research that could make a difference for Parkinson’s research. UC San Diego is a site for this research study, and you may also contact Christina Gigliotti, Ph.D. at 858-246-1243 for additional information.

Postural Stability in PD

Drs. Litvan and Nandipati are studying the postural stability in patients with PD using an iPad application. Eligible patients should be between 40 - 90 years of age, able to stand comfortably for 5 minutes unaided, and have no memory problems. Estimated start date May 2016.

PD and the Immune System

Dr. Litvan is collaborating with Dr. Sette at the La Jolla Allergy and Immunology (LJI) to determine if certain immune cells play a role in Parkinson's Disease (PD). Participants will come in and be asked to provide a standard blood donation and may be asked for information regarding their medical history. Eligible patients include people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease between the ages of 50 - 70. For more information, please call (858) 822-MOVE or email mdcresearch@ucsd.edu

Currently enrolling

Skin Biopsy for Familiar PD

Dr. Litvan is collecting skin biopsy of patients with Parkinson's disease with blood relatives with pD for future PD stem cell research. For more information, please call (858) 822-MOVE or email mdcresearch@ucsd.edu.

Currently enrolling

Sticker Sensor Study

Dr. Litvan is studying the applicable uses of a sticker sensor called epidermal electronic system (EES) sensor. There are three uses currently being studied:

EEG: This sub-study is studying if this sticker sensor can be used to find out more about processing in the brain. The sticker sensor will be placed on the forehead and be connected to a portable EEG to measure their brain waves while viewing visual stimulus on a computer screen and/or listening to auditory stimulus. Patients may be asked to take this system home and complete fifteen minutes of testing a day for a week. Currently Enrolling.

EMG: Prior studies have demonstrated a hyperactivation of a laryngeal muscle at rest in patients with PD with needle-based EMG. This sub-study is determining if this EES sticker sensor and standard transcutaneous EMG electrodes can replicate this study in a non-invasive manner. During this study, the sticker sensor will be placed on the skin to record muscle activation while the subject is making different phonations. Currently Enrolling.

EGG: This sub-study is studying if this sticker sensor can be used to monitor the GI tract non-invasively. The sticker sensors will be placed on your abdomen and will monitor your GI tract while you stay sitting for up to four hours for each recording. Currently enrolling.

For more information, please call (858) 822-MOVE or email mdcresearch@ucsd.edu.

Sublingual APOKYN for PD Patients with Fluctuations

This clinical trial is a five-month long study testing the effectiveness of a sublingual version fo a current FDA-approved drug (called APOKYN) used in PD patients with fluctuations. Patients eligible for this study include patients with PD with a meaningful response to their PD medication with well-defined early morning "OFF" episodes and must have a total daily "OFF" time duration of ≥ 2 hours. during the waking day. They should also not have any memory problems. This study has open label extension continuation (not placebo-controlled) study available for patients after completion of the intial study. Currently enrolling.

Using MRI to study cognitive changes

Dr. Deborah Harrington’s lab uses functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging to study the neural bases for cognitive changes in Parkinson’s disease. The goal is to identify early signatures of dysfunction in brain networks that support cognition and to explore individual differences in the risk for cognitive decline.  If you are interested in participating or would like to refer a potential volunteer, please contact Dr. Harrington’s research coordinator at 858-642-6392. Link to Dr. Harrington's publications

Using technology to study sensorimotor deficits in PD

Dr. Howard Poizner’s lab is using contemporary technologies for 3D motion analysis, robotics, and immersive virtual reality, in conjunction with noninvasive brain imaging (EEG), to examine the nature of the sensorimotor deficits in Parkinson's disease and the effects of drug versus surgical therapies in ameliorating these deficits.

Our goal is to better understand the functional roles of basal ganglia-cortical circuits in motor control and sensorimotor learning, and, in the process, to provide quantitative, objective assessments of motor dysfunction and specific effects of therapies. Find out about participating in our studies at the Poizner Lab website.

Validation of new MDS PD Diagnostic Criteria

This study is validating a new PD criteria. All patients with a diagnosis of Parkinsonism without dementia are eligible. During this study, the patient will be asked to complete a scratch and sniff test, answer a few additional questions and allow a movement disorder fellow evaluate their medical record. For more information, please call (858) 822-MOVE or email mdcresearch@ucsd.edu.

Currently enrolling