Yale researchers study potential treatment for depression in patients with Parkinson’s disease – NBC Connecticut

Yale researchers are studying a potential treatment for depression in patients with Parkinson’s disease: ketamine. They are looking for people in Connecticut to help and get involved in a newly launched clinical trial.

Nearly one million people in the United States live with Parkinson’s disease, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

Dr. Sophie Holmes, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University, knows one.

“My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about six years ago,” Holmes said.

The neurodegenerative disorder causes motor issues, like tremors and balance problems, but a lesser-known symptom is depression, something her father dealt with early on.

“He’s noticed mood symptoms before,” Holmes said.

It’s one of the reasons she’s passionate about new research coming out of the Yale School of Medicine.

“I thought I could use my expertise to help with a very important but understudied and untreated symptom of Parkinson’s disease,” she said.

Because standard antidepressants are often less effective in patients with Parkinson’s disease, Yale researchers are studying an anesthetic drug called ketamine.

“Our first hope is to show that we can really benefit people with Parkinson’s disease and improve their mood by relieving some of the burden they feel with depression and anxiety,” said Dr. Gerard Sanacora, director of the Yale Depression Research Program. , noted.

Laboratory tests over the past two decades show that ketamine is as effective as an antidepressant.

Now researchers are working to translate these results to people with a clinical study. It was launched in November 2021 and will run until August 2024.

“We greatly appreciate people who want to participate in a study like this because it is so important to the field,” Sanacora said.

Scientists are looking for people with Parkinson’s disease or depression to get involved. Participants will receive ketamine or a placebo twice a week for three weeks.

“Before we assess their symptoms of depression, as well as their symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and then after, we’ll do the same and see if ketamine helps reduce depression,” Holmes said.

They also use imaging to measure the functioning of ketamine in the brain.

Beyond reducing depression, the researchers believe the drug may also halt or even reverse the neurodegenerative process caused by Parkinson’s disease.

“We’re actually hoping to have larger effects on disease progression,” Sanacora said. “It’s very, very early, we have to watch it carefully, but it’s part of the hope of the study.”

If you are interested in getting involved in the clinical study, you can contact the Yale research team at [email protected] or (475) 287-9521.

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