Injuries related to falls are a major cause of hospitalization for patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Two of the most important factors contributing to the increased risk for falls are considered to be diminished reactive postural responses (impaired balance) and cognitive impairment.
About 60% of PD patients fall every year
Postural dysfunction, associated to cognitive decline, is a debilitating symptom in PD. It is associated with increased risk of falling and associated complications such as fractures, decreased mobility and lower quality of life. Out of approximately 60% of PD patient that fall every year, around 70% falls recurrently.
PD patients’ risk of falling is 2-3 times higher compared to age-matched healthy people.
Levodopa and other similar Parkinson’s medicines help poorly with these symptoms and thus have no major effect on the risk of falling.
Falls are linked to cognitive function
As Parkinson’s disease progresses, cortical areas of the brain are affected which can contribute to cognitive decline and eventually lead to dementia. 25-30% of PD patients show signs of dementia, and an equal number have what is called minimal cognitive impairment. The risk of falling is closely linked to cognitive decline and dementia.
Embarking on an untapped market
Postural instability in PD is a condition with high prevalence, unmet needs, no approved treatment and limited global pipeline. Drugs that act to reduce the risk of falling represent one of the greatest medical needs in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
Aside from IRLAB’s pirepemat (IRL752), there is only one candidate in preclinical stage (CM-PK) and one in clinical stage (droxidopa).