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The PD Ketamine Trial

In this Michael J Fox Foundation funded clinical trial, we will examine the efficacy of ketamine in treating depression in Parkinson’s disease for the first time. We are looking for volunteers with Parkinson’s disease and symptoms of depression (age 40-80).


Ketamine Clinical Trial

Parkinson disease not only affects a person's mobility, but also many other symptoms in a person with Parkinson disease life. Depression is a very common symptom caused by Parkinson disease, and adequate treatment is imperative for patients to feel their best. Through collaborations between Drs. Sophie E. Holmes and Gerard Sanacora of Psychiatry and the Movement Disorders group, researchers are conducting the first clinical trial of ketamine as an antidepressant in PD. Due to how it works in the brain – its ability to help form new synapses – they have strong reason to believe it will effectively treat depression, and possibly other symptoms, in PD. Using brain imaging before and after treatment will help to determine how it works in the brains of people with Parkinson’s for the first time. The trial is taking place at the Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital. In this video, hear more about the trial from Drs. Holmes and Sanacora and from Brenda, who talks about her experience participating in this groundbreaking research.

Why are we conducting this research?

Depression affects around half of people with Parkinson’s disease and significantly adds to the burden of the disease. However, existing antidepressants are not effective in treating depression in Parkinson’s disease and new treatments are urgently needed. Ketamine is a drug that has been traditionally used as an anesthetic, but is now being used as an antidepressant, based on the discovery that it rapidly reduces symptoms of depression. Ketamine hold significant potential for effectively treating depression in Parkinson’s disease. We will test this for the first time in a controlled, clinical trial. We will also use brain imaging to determine how it works in the brain.

What’s involved?

The trial will involve coming to Yale for a total of 9 visits, in which you will receive 6 infusions of either ketamine or placebo (administered twice per week for 3 weeks). You will also have the option to take part in brain imaging before and after treatment, which will help us determine its effects on the brain.

You will be reimbursed up to $2000 for your participation in this trial, and taking part could help with the discovery of important new treatments for depression in Parkinson’s disease.

Where are we based?

The screening and treatment visits will take place at the Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital, 184 Liberty St, New Haven.