Hubert Fernandez, MD: Focus of Parkinson Disease Research

July 29, 2020

The director of the Center for Neurological Restoration at Cleveland Clinic details the direction of clinical research for Parkinson disease and efforts that are being made to alleviate quality of life issues for those with the disease.

“While we wait for a cure, we need to do things that can help improve the quality of life. For example, 50% of PD patients are depressed, a quarter of them are anxious and have panic attacks, and 90% of them have constipation.”

Despite the lack of a cure for Parkinson disease (PD), researchers have made significant strides in helping mitigate the effects of the disease and helping to reduce “off” time over the last feew decades. Among a treatment landscape that has been long-dominated by levodopa therapy, other agents such as opicapone (Ongentys; Neurocrine Biosciences) and istradefylline (Nourianz; Kyowa Kirin) have emerged in recent years. Amantadine, which is currently in phase 3 testing, is among the highly anticipated treatment options expected to take the next leap.

Hubert Fernandez, MD, director, Center for Neurological Restoration, Cleveland Clinic, explained to NeurologyLive that he feels as though there is an understanding between clinicians that finding a cure would be the “holy grail,” but it won’t come overnight. He added that there is a 2-pronged approach to PD treatment right now, half of which is dedicated towards a cure and slowing disease progression, and the other half is coming up with treatments that can help alleviate quality of life.

In this interview with NeurologyLive, Fernandez also details the focus of clinical research in PD, the realities of attempting to develop a cure, and the increased attention the PD community has gained over the past 2 decades.