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May 28, 2019/News Releases

Cleveland Clinic Awarded $3 Million NIH Grant to Determine Disease-Modifying Effects of Exercise in Parkinson’s Patients

The study is designed to measure the impact of long-term, high-intensity aerobic exercise

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The National Institutes of Health has awarded Cleveland Clinic researcher Jay Alberts, Ph.D, a 5-year, $3 million grant to conduct a multi-site clinical trial to study the long-term effects of aerobic exercise on slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Jay Alberts, Ph.D., is vice-chair of innovation in the Neurological Institute and a staff member in Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Biomedical Engineering. Alberts is the principal investigator on the CYCLE trial (“CYClical Lower Extremity Exercise for Parkinson’s trial”).

The new study aims to determine if long-term, high-intensity aerobic exercise can slow the advancement of Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological disease. To date, no surgical or pharmacological intervention has been effective in slowing the disease’s course. This project will be the first long-term investigation of the potential for aerobic exercise to arrest disease progression.

“Our previous work clearly indicates that aerobic exercise, such as cycling, in a controlled laboratory environment improves motor function over the course of eight weeks,” said Alberts. “This project is important in understanding how exercise can slow disease progression and the translation of a laboratory-based protocol to the home of the patient. To bring an effective intervention from the Cleveland Clinic to the home of a patient outside of our zip code is an exciting next step in the treatment of Parkinson’s.”

Jay Alberts, Ph.D.

Cleveland Clinic and University of Utah will recruit 250 Parkinson’s patients who will be randomized to a high-intensity home exercise or usual and customary care (UCC) group. CYCLE’s exercise group will utilize indoor cycling bikes from fitness technology company Peloton. Participants will be instructed to exercise 3x/week for 12 months; the UCC group will be instructed to engage in their normal activities. The exercise and control groups will undergo identical motor and non-motor evaluation protocols at enrollment, 6, and 12 months.

Overall activity levels will be monitored for both groups via a wearable device. Exercise performance data will be used to determine if there is an optimal exercise dose necessary to slow disease progression. Identifying a necessary exercise dose will provide clinicians with more specific recommendations for Parkinson’s disease patients and provides patients an opportunity to play a more active role in the treatment of this disease.

This research will build upon previous work done by Alberts and his team. They recently completed a 100-person in-laboratory randomized clinical trial and results showed an 8-week high-intensity aerobic exercise program significantly improved global motor function and specific aspects of walking and cognitive function in patients with Parkinson’s. These positive outcomes provide strong rationale to evaluate effectiveness of a long-term CYCLE protocol in a home-based setting to impact a greater number of people with Parkinson’s disease.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 66,000 employees are more than 4,200 salaried physicians and researchers and 16,600 nurses, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic’s health system includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 11 regional hospitals in northeast Ohio, more than 180 northern Ohio outpatient locations – including 18 full-service family health centers and three health and wellness centers – and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nev.; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2018, there were 7.9 million total outpatient visits, 238,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 220,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CCforMedia and twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

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