Clinical Research

Clinical trials depend on volunteer participation to help answer questions about the cause(s) of diseases, the source for a cure and to find new treatments. Participants of all types are needed in clinical trials. People in all stages of the disease, as well as healthy people who've not been diagnosed can all make important contributions. Choosing to participate in a clinical trial is an important personal decision. Participants need to educate themselves and ask many questions before enrolling in a trial. Additionally, it is often helpful to talk to a physician, family members and friends about deciding whether or not to participate a research trial.

Although there are many definitions of clinical trials, they are generally considered to be bio-medical or health-related research studies in human beings that follow a pre-defined protocol. Clinical research includes both interventional and observational types of studies. Interventional studies are those in which the research subjects are assigned by the investigator to a treatment or other intervention (for example a medication or exercise), and their outcomes are measured. Observational studies are those in which individuals are observed and their outcomes are measured by the investigators.

Participants in clinical trials can play a more active role in their own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to medical research. Here are some resources to help with the decision-making process.

Research into different aspects of Parkinson's disease (and caring for people with Parkinson's disease) takes place on both a regional and national level. To find out more about research taking place and recruiting participants, click on the links below.

National Parkinson's Disease Research

The National Institutes of Health's ClinicalTrials.gov website includes an "Introduction to Clinical Trials" with helpful questions and answers about clinical trial participation. Selected Q & As from this website are shown below.

To find clinical trials for Parkinson's disease that are currently enrolling subjects, visit PDtrials.org - specifically for Parkinson's disease trials or ClinicalTrials.gov - a clinical trial registry for all conditions and diseases.

The Fox Trial Finder is a user friendly tool that connects volunteers with Parkinson's disease clinical trials. For more information on The Fox Trial Finder, visit foxtrialfinder.michaeljfox.org

Regional Parkinson's Disease Research

Learning and Parkinson Disease

The Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh is recruiting participants between the ages of 45-100 years old, who have Parkinson's disease, are able to come to the University of Pittsburgh, and taking Levodopa/Carbidopa only medication (Ex. Sinemet, Sinemet CR, Larodopa, Levodopa/Carbidopa, Parcopa, Atamet, Dopar, etc.)or Dopamine Agonist only(Ex. Bromocriptine, Palodel, Neupro, Pramipexole, Mirapex, Mirapex ER, Ropinerole, Requip, Requip XL, etc.).

Participants will be asked to perform a series of tasks on a computer and with paper and pencil. The studies will use a non-invasive brain scan called fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and behavioral testing. fMRI is a technique used to detect changes in brain function during mental activity. This study will examine how different task conditions produce different patterns of brain activation.

For additional infromation and eligibility criteria, please contact:

Corrine Durisko
412-624-7475
cgaglia@pitt.edu

A Study of the Safety and Effectiveness of Pimavanserin

Parkinson’s disease psychosis (PDP), one of the most difficult non-motor symptoms manifests primarily as hallucinations (seeing, feeling or hearing things that are not really there) and delusions (believing in something that is not true). There are no antipsychotic drugs approved in the United States to treat PDP.

Prior pimavanserin research data indicate a reduction in psychotic symptoms without worsening of motor function, supporting this current study to further evaluate daily oral treatment with this investigational drug. This research study is currently recruiting people with Parkinson's disease who have had visual and/or auditory hallucinations and/or delusions during the last month. For additional information on the investigational drug, the study or eligability criteria, please contact Norma Skillings, RN, CRC at 724-836-1921. This is part of a multicenter, Phase 3 Study conducted locally by Michael K. Stauter, MD at Westmoreland Neurology Associates 327 West PittsburghSt., Greensburg, PA 16601

PIB Study of Amyloid Changes in PD Patients

PIB study is examining amyloid changes in the brains of PD, PDD, and DLB

This study involves two separate half-day visits. One visit is an MRI and complete Neuropsychological exam performed by the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) that includes paper and pencil tests, questions about mood, memory and reasoning. The other visit is a PET scan (PIB and FDG).

(Study pays $250.00)

For additional information abotu this study, contact:

Larry Ivanco
412-692-2394

Effect of Vitamin D3 Supplementation in Parkinson's Disease Patients

This study will examine the impact of supplementation of 1000 IU vitamin D3 on bone and mineral metabolism parameters in early stage idiopathic PD patients (Hoehn and Yahr stages I-III) in a placebo controlled double blind randomized controlled trial. For more information, please contact the Study Coordinator.

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Monica Updyke
814-269-5201.

Use of the InMotion2 Robotic Device

Use of the InMotion2 Robotic Device to Distinguish Normal from Pathologic Upper Extremity Movement Between Persons with Parkinson's disease (PD) and a Healthy, Gender/Age-matched Comparison Group.

The primary objective of this research study is to determine if a robotic device, the InMotion2, can discriminate between pathologic movement in persons with Parkinson's disease and normal upper extremity movement in a healthy, gender/age-matched comparison group. The specific aim of this study is to conduct preliminary groundwork to develop a novel, objective measurement tool which can ultimately be used to evaluate the effectiveness of standardized treatment on upper extremity motor function in persons with Parkinson's disease. For more information, please contact the Study Coordinator.

Monica Updyke
814-269-5201
John P. Murtha Neuroscience and Pain Center
Johnstown, PA

NMS Study of Physiological Responses of PD Versus Controls

NMS study is examining the possible differences in certain physiological responses (non-motor symptoms) of PD versus controls.

One visit study lasting approximately three hours is required. Researchers will be specifically measuring; pupillary response, gastric activity, respiration, and heart rate in various paradigms.

(Study pays $50.)

For additional information on this study, contact:

Larry Ivanco
412-692-2394

NACC Study of Amyloid Changes in the Brains of (PD) Patients

NACC study is examining amyloid changes in the brains of people with Parkinson's disease (PD), Parkinson's Disease Dementia (PDD), and Diffuse Lewey Body Disease (DLB) which is being conducted by Robert Moore, MD, PhD.

This study involves two separate half-day visits. One visit is an MRI and complete Neuropsychological exam performed by the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) that includes paper and pencil tests, questions about mood, memory and reasoning. The other visit is a PET scan.

(Study pays $250.00)

Contact Larry Ivanco
412-692-2394

PSG Study Examining the Genetics of PD

Parkinson Study Group (PSG) is conducting a study examining the genetics of PD. (PROGENI)

PROGENI (Parkinson's Research: The Organized GENetics Initiative) is a NIH-funded collaborative effort of the PSG, Indiana University, and University of Cincinnati. This initiative seeks to identify the gene or genes that predispose an individual to develop Parkinson's disease.

For additional information about this study, contact:

Larry Ivanco
412-692-2394

PSG Study of the Effectiveness of Isradipine (Dynacric)

This is a PSG study looking at the effectiveness of Isradipine (Dynacric) in subjects with PD.

STEADY-PD (Safety, tolerability, and efficacy assessment of Dynacric CR for PD). Will be recruiting subjects with early PD that have not yet started Dopaminergic treatment.

For additional information about this study, contact:

Larry Ivanco
412-692-2394

University of Pittsburgh Department of Radiology

The Department of Radiology is conducting high resolution 7T MRI study examining the changes over time in the deep brain nuclei of PD versus Controls. The long term goal of this research is to validate the use of the MRI as a tool in early detection and optimization of care for people with PD.

(Study pays $75.00 per visit)

For more information about this study, contact:

Larry Ivanco
412-692-2394

University of Pittsburgh Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology

Researchers are looking for individuals with Parkinson's disease to participate in an assessment of their hand function using tabletop robots. The assessment takes about three hours.

(Participants are compensated).

For additional information about this study, contact:

Heather Markham
412-383-6594

Energy Cost of Walking and Parkinson's Disease

Energy Cost of Walking and Parkinson's Disease

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh are excited to announce the beginning of a new study of Parkinson’s disease that will investigate the energy cost of walking involved during different bouts of walking in older adults with PD.

Individuals must have a medical diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, be 65 years of age or older, and able to walk without the help of another person or an assistive device (indoors).

This one-visit study will be conducted at the Kaufmann Medical building at the University of Pittsburgh (Oakland campus) and will consist of three 4-6 minute bouts of walking and answering variety of questionnaires. The single testing session is estimated to last approximately 2.5 hours. Free parking is provided and you will be reimbursed a small fee for your participation.

If you are interested or have questions please call: David Wert at 412-383-5397. If we are unable to answer your call, please leave us a message and we will return your call as soon as possible.

Study in Parkinson's Disease of Exercise (SPARX Study)

Study in PARkinson’s disease of eXercise (SPARX Study)

Researchers from the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Pittsburgh are excited to announce the launching of their new exercise study, the SPARX Study (Study in Parkinson’s disease of Exericse).

This exciting new study is looking for individuals between the ages of 40-80 who have been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease BUT not started on medication.

Individuals meeting this criteria will receive a thorough medical and neurological examination, and if eligible for the study, will participate in an intensive treadmill walking program four times per week for 6 months, under the guidance of our physical therapist. Initial screening and exercise will take place at the University of Pittsburgh, Oakland campus.

Free parking is provided for all screening and exercise sessions. If you are interested in or have questions about this exciting new study, please call: Samannaaz Khoja at 412-383-6868. If we are unable to answer your call, please leave us a message and we will return your call as soon as possible.

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  • Phone: 412-837-2542 - Office
The Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania is the Pittsburgh region’s leading advocacy organization for Parkinson’s patients, their families and professional caregivers offering a variety of services related to Parkinson’s disease. Since 1995, the Parkinson’s community has relied on us for exercise, education and support programs as well as referrals to leading healthcare providers specializing in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania is fully funded through private donations.
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