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The Bristol GDNF clinical trial


Glial-cell line Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF) has shown promise as a potential disease-modifying treatment for Parkinson's, and research into its use has been actively supported by Parkinson's UK and the Cure Parkinson's Trust. Results published in 2016 were inconclusive on the treatment's efficacy, but it appeared to be safe so the trial continued. The full trial reported on 27th February 2019 and the results have been eagerly awaited, with much hype in social media and elsewhere.

The research reports and commentary

To save you some searching, we've gathered links here to the research reports and other announcements.

Original papers in academic journals

The results, from Alan Whone and his research group in Bristol, were published on 27th February 2019 in two respected academic journals, Brain and Journal of Parkinson's Disease. Both papers are Open Access, so anyone is able to read and download them. Here are direct links to the papers:

Summaries of the results

Academic papers are inevitably rather technical, so it can also be helpful to read summaries from reliable authors. Here are some that we trust. We will continue to add to this list as new publications become available.

The BBC documentary

Interest around this new publication is such that the BBC has prepared a two-part TV documentary. The first part will air at 9pm on 28th February 2019 on BBC2, and the second on 7th March. We've put it into the Branch calendar so you can't forget about it!

Links to the documentary on iPlayer, and much other useful information, can be found on the BBC website at

Understanding the facts

Research into potential Parkinson's treatments is challenging and complicated. However, reliable websites such as The Science of Parkinson's and the Parkinson's UK research pages provide valuable explanations for non-specialists. Here at Oxford Branch we will be observing this closely, and we will add more information and explanation to this page as soon as we have it.

Announcement from Parkinson's UK

We're writing to let you know that the final results from the GDNF clinical trials programme will be announced next Wednesday, 27 February. And, following this, the first of a two-part documentary called The Parkinson's drug trial: a miracle cure? will air on Thursday 28 February on BBC 2 at 9pm.

The GDNF trial aimed to investigate whether boosting the levels of a naturally-occurring protein, Glial Cell Line Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF), can regenerate dying brain cells in people affected by Parkinson's and reverse their condition. The BBC documentary features the journey of some of the participants on the clinical trial and the second part will also feature the trial results. The date for the second part is yet to be confirmed - we expect it to air on Thursday 7 March.

There will be media coverage in the run up to the documentary and after it. Publications like the Radio Times and TV Times out this week are running features. And there are plans for a potential slot on BBC Breakfast on 27 February.

If you have any queries after watching the programme please visit the Parkinson's UK website.

Updates and corrections

If you find any errors or omissions on this page, please let us know by email to

History of updates

27th Feb 2019, 14:25 Text added to acknowledge the lead role of Parkinson's UK in funding the Bristol work
1st Mar 2019, 08:50 Added links to SoPD article and BBC support page