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DATATOP Study Confirms Deprenyl's Efficacy in Fighting the Progression of Parkinson's Disease

For release: Wednesday, January 20, 1993

Scientists announced today in the January 21 New England Journal of Medicine the results of a broad, long-term study on the effects of deprenyl and tocopherol (a form of vitamin E) on the progression of early Parkinson's disease. The investigators, who comprise a group known as the Parkinson's Study Group, confirmed that deprenyl is effective in slowing the early progression of Parkinson's disease and delaying the need for initiation of therapy with the drug levodopa. The latest results of the study showed, however, that the beneficial effects of deprenyl were not as lasting in fighting Parkinson's disease as the investigators had anticipated when evaluating the preliminary results in 1989. The clinical trials also showed no evidence that tocopherol was useful in Parkinson's disease.

The study, called DATATOP (Deprenyl and Tocopherol Antioxidative Therapy for Parkinson's Disease), was sponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). It involved more than 50 investigators over a 5-year period and demonstrated both the importance and the power of such careful, large-scale studies. This trial--particularly the availability of a network of highly trained clinical investigators--allowed the investigators to pick out, with a high degree of reliability, the small but definite benefits of one drug and the lack of benefit provided by another.

"Clinical trials such as the DATATOP study are extremely important because they give clinicians assurance that they are indeed pursuing a beneficial course of action and not offering patients false hope," said Dr. Murray Goldstein, director of the NINDS. "In this instance the benefits of deprenyl are subtle and could only be shown in a study of this size and scope, but taking the steps necessary to confirm whether those benefits exist is extremely important to those who have to live with this devastating neurological disorder." Finding a drug that provides even limited benefit is especially important for disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, for which there is no cure.

The NINDS, one of the 16 National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, is the primary supporter of brain and nervous system research in the United States. The NIH is a component of the Public Health Service of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Last Modified August 7, 2009