Ondansetron, an anti-sickness drug used in the NHS for cancer patients could treat hallucinations in dementia patients.
University College London is trialling an anti-sickness drug called Ondansetron as a treatment for hallucinations in people with Lewy body Dementia or Parkinson’s disease. They are currently recruiting volunteers from across England, Scotland and Wales.
Hallucinations affect up to 75% of people with Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia, and it can be a highly distressing experience, causing the individual to become confused or scared. Current treatment options for hallucinations negatively impact the other symptoms of Parkinson’s and Dementia therefore, new treatments are crucial.
Ondansetron: an anti-sickness drug with great potential
Ondansetron has previously shown promise for treating hallucinations, and the drug is already being implemented in the NHS, meaning this could be an exciting opportunity to repurpose an anti-sickness drug for Parkinson’s and Dementia.
Chief investigator Professor Suzanne Reeves (UCL Psychiatry) said: “Current drug treatment options for visual hallucinations in people with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia are limited and can cause significant side effects which worsen some people’s symptoms.
“It is really important that we identify and test alternative treatments, and given that ondansetron is already used in the NHS, it’s possible we could have an effective treatment available in a fraction of the usual time.”
Trial of Ondansetron as a Parkinson’s HAllucinations Treatment
The Trial of Ondansetron as a Parkinson’s HAllucinations Treatment (TOP HAT) is rapidly expanding. Currently, it is a phase II clinical trial funded by Parkinson’s UK to discover if the anti-sickness drug has therapeutic benefits for neurological conditions.
There are currently around 30 study sites open in England, Scotland and Wales, with plans to expand further to recruit 216 participants.
If a patient is chosen for the study, they will be randomly allocated either the anti-sickness drug or a placebo. TOP HAT is a double-blind study, meaning neither the participants nor the clinical team will know which treatment is being administered.
Participants will take the medications at home as the anti-sickness drug or placebo will be directly delivered to their home address with instructions on how to take them.
The study will take around 24 weeks, with participants consuming the anti-sickness drug or placebo for 12 weeks, then further follow-ups for 12 weeks after they finish taking the medication.
During the study, the participants will also be asked a complete range of study assessments, including questions about hallucinations and any other symptoms they are experiencing and how they impact their lives.