The future of Parkinson’s disease research: A new paradigm of human specific investigation is necessary… and possible

Main Article Content

Manuela Cassotta
Hugo Geerts
Lise Harbom
Tiago F. Outeiro
Iosif Pediaditakis
Orly Reiner
Stefan Schildknecht
Jens C. Schwamborn
Jarrod Bailey
Kathrin Herrmann
Helena T. Hogberg


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a complex neurodegenerative condition with a multifactorial origin. To date, approaches to drug discovery for PD have resulted in symptomatic therapies for the motor manifestations and signs associated with neurodegeneration but have failed to identify preventive or curative therapies. This failure mainly originates from the persistence of major gaps in our understanding of the specific molecular basis of PD initiation and progression. New approach methodologies (NAMs) hold the potential to advance PD research while facilitating a move away from animal- based research. We report a workshop involving NAM experts in the field of PD and neurodegenerative diseases, who discussed and identified a scientific strategy for successful, human-specific PD research. We outline some of the most important human-specific NAMs, along with their main potentials and limitations, and suggest possible ways to overcome the latter. Key recommendations to advance PD research include integrating NAMs while accounting for multiple levels of complexity, from molecular to population level; learning from recent advances in Alzheimer’s disease research; increasing the sharing of data; promoting innovative pilot studies on disease pathogenesis; and accessing philanthropic funding to enable studies using novel approaches. Collaborative efforts between different stakeholders, including researchers, clinicians, and funding agencies, are urgently needed to create a scientific roadmap and support a paradigm change towards effective, human-specific research for neurodegenerative diseases without animals, as is already happening in the field of toxicology.

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Cassotta, M. ., Geerts, H. ., Harbom, L., Outeiro, T. F., Pediaditakis, I., Reiner, O., Schildknecht, S., Schwamborn, J. C., Bailey, J., Herrmann, K. and Hogberg, H. T. (2022) “The future of Parkinson’s disease research: A new paradigm of human specific investigation is necessary… and possible”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 39(4), pp. 694–709. doi: 10.14573/altex.2203161.
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