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Neurodegenerative Disease (Parkinson's)

In recent years, progress has been made in understanding the complex causes of Parkinson's disease (PD), a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years. There has been a focus on novel treatments including gene therapies and stem cell therapies. There has also been research into approaches to improving the lives of those affected by the disease.

Clinical research in Christchurch hospital has helped to improve the quality of life of Parkinson's patients. Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch hospitals started to take part in research into PD over 20 years ago. This research is led by Dr Khaled Amar, a consultant physician with an interest in PD. Dr Amar is supported by an established team comprising a consultant nurse, research nurse and specialist nurses. Our staff have the assistance of a specialist therapist for studies that focus on rehabilitation. The local area has a significant patient cohort: approximately 1,000 Parkinson's patients used the therapeutic services at Christchurch hospital last year.

The focus of Parkinson's research at Christchurch Hospital is primarily:

  • genetic basis of the disease
  • repurposed drug trials
  • new ways to understand and diagnose Parkinson's disease

The Parkinson’s Research Team is currently overseeing eight studies, and maintains close ties with local facilities. The team regularly communicates with research staff from Poole and the wider Community, ensuring a comprehensive service is offered to patients. It is also closely involved with the Day Hospital at Christchurch. Our patients are quite unequivocal about their reasons for supporting research in Christchurch Hospital:

"I take part in research to see if it will help with looking for the causes of Parkinson’s disease for the benefit of myself and future generations."
Julie, a patient on a Parkinson's trial.

"I enjoy the assessments, get seen more regularly and it helps me know how my disease is progressing."
Roger, a patient on a Parkinson's trial.

Take part in new research looking at care for people with long-term neurological conditions

Skin Metabolites

This research project was based on a novel finding about people with Parkinson's disease (PD). A woman who claims to be able to detect a unique body odour from people with PD captured the interest of researchers at The University of Manchester. This woman has an extremely sensitive sense of smell and notably, she detected a change in body odour in a family member many years before diagnosis. Researchers tested her on two occasions with samples of swabs rubbed on the skin of people with and without the disease, and she was able to correctly identify all 12 of the 12 individuals who had the disease.

An early sign of PD is excessive production of sebum, which is an oily substance on the skin. Based on this, the Skin Metabolites study aims to investigate whether compounds present on the skin of those with PD can be detected and identified, to provide a route for early diagnosis of the disease.

In collaboration with The University of Manchester, investigating skin metabolites as a new way to diagnose PD is a study that so far, has achieved a successful recruitment of 125 patients, and recruitment has been extended until August 2020.


This study is aimed at improving the early diagnosis of specific progressive neurodegenerative conditions in Parkinson's Disease, and to establish a European registry to help in the design and development of new treatments. This study will be open until the end of 2019.

Neuro LTC

This study aims to assess patients with long-term neurological conditions to identify the prevalence and impact of fatigue, and to identify factors that influence everyday care requirements. The researchers aim to use this information in future research projects, to inform how to best to deliver community-based care in neurological long-term conditions across Wessex.

List of neurodegenerative disease publications

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