Try our beta test site
IMPORTANT: Listing of a study on this site does not reflect endorsement by the National Institutes of Health. Talk with a trusted healthcare professional before volunteering for a study. Read more...

Study to Determine the Safety and Tolerability of Varenicline (Chantix®) in Treating Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 3

This study has been completed.
National Ataxia Foundation
Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center (BAARC)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Theresa Zesiewicz, University of South Florida Identifier:
First received: October 8, 2009
Last updated: June 15, 2012
Last verified: June 2012
Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) is a group of inherited disorders characterized by cerebellar degeneration leading to imbalance, incoordination, speech difficulties and problems with walking. Recently, individual case reports have suggested that varenicline, a drug used in smoking cessation, produces substantial improvement in patients with several inherited ataxias. A modest response was noted in 5 patients with SCA, suggesting that it is potentially efficacious in this disorder as well. Although this agent is available for off-label use, the severe side effects noted with its use and the lack of long-term toxicity data demand that it be systematically assessed. The present study will test whether varenicline is safe and potentially efficacious in a heterogeneous cohort of adults with SCA.

Condition Intervention Phase
Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 3
Drug: varenicline
Drug: placebo
Phase 2

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment
Masking: Double Blind (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: A Pilot, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Phase I Study to Determine the Safety and Tolerability of Varenicline (Chantix®) in Treating Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 3

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by University of South Florida:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Changes in the patient's SARA Rating Scale total score [ Time Frame: 25 weeks ]
  • Frequency and severity of dose-limiting adverse events [ Time Frame: 25 weeks ]

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • The effect of varenicline on quality of life in patients with spinocerebellar ataxia [ Time Frame: 25 weeks ]
  • The effect of varenicline on depression and anxiety ratings [ Time Frame: 25 weeks ]
  • The effect of varenicline on the activity of daily living (ADL) in patients with spinocerebellar ataxia [ Time Frame: 25 weeks ]

Enrollment: 20
Study Start Date: October 2009
Study Completion Date: April 2011
Primary Completion Date: April 2011 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Varneicline Drug: varenicline
up to 1mg BID for 8 weeks
Placebo Comparator: Placebo Drug: placebo
placebo matching varenicline, up to 1mg BID for 8 weeks


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 80 Years   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  1. Outpatients with spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 diagnosed by a movement disorder specialist and confirmed by genetic testing (of the patient or in a first degree relative of the patient).
  2. Age 18 years to 80 years.
  3. Women of child-bearing potential must use a reliable method of contraception and must provide a negative pregnancy test at entry into the study.
  4. Serum creatine kinase, complete metabolic panel, complete blood count, liver function tests, renal function tests, platelets and EKG are within normal limits (results obtained from primary care physician and dated within the past 6 months or obtained at screening visit).
  5. Stable doses of all medications for 30 days prior to study entry and for the duration of the study.
  6. Ability to ambulate with or without assistance.
  7. Score of 10 or higher (worse) on the SARA total score.
  8. Score of 3 or higher (worse) on the 'gait' subsection of the SARA rating scale.

Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Any unstable illness or concomitant medical condition that, in the investigator's opinion, precludes participation in this study. This includes other disorders that may affect gait or balance (stroke, arthritis, etc).
  2. Pregnancy or lactation.
  3. Concurrent participation in another clinical study.
  4. Patients with a history of substance abuse.
  5. Patients who currently smoke or have smoked within the past 12 months.
  6. Presence of psychosis, bipolar disorder, untreated depression (BDI greater than or equal to 21), or history of suicide attempt.
  7. Concurrent treatment with any MAOIs, Wellbutrin, or nicotine patches.
  8. Dementia or other psychiatric illness that prevents the patient from giving informed consent (Mini Mental Status Exam score less than 24).
  9. Legal incapacity or limited legal capacity.
  10. Presence of severe renal disease (BUN 50% greater than normal or creatinine clearance <60 mL/min) or hepatic disease.
  11. Abnormal creatine kinase and/or platelet count in the past 6 months (as determined by lab reports obtained from primary care physicians or conducted at baseline).
  12. Use of varenicline within the previous 30 days.
  13. Ataxia derived from any other cause than genetically-confirmed SCA (including but not limited to alcoholism, head injury, Multiple Sclerosis, olivo-ponto-cerebellar atrophy or multiple system atrophy).
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00992771

United States, California
University of California - Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California, United States, 90095
United States, Florida
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida, United States, 32610
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida, United States, 33612
Sponsors and Collaborators
University of South Florida
National Ataxia Foundation
Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center (BAARC)
Principal Investigator: Theresa Zesiewicz, MD University of South Florida
  More Information

Responsible Party: Theresa Zesiewicz, Professor of Neurology, University of South Florida Identifier: NCT00992771     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 8
Study First Received: October 8, 2009
Last Updated: June 15, 2012

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Spinocerebellar Ataxias
Spinocerebellar Degenerations
Cerebellar Ataxia
Machado-Joseph Disease
Neurologic Manifestations
Nervous System Diseases
Signs and Symptoms
Cerebellar Diseases
Brain Diseases
Central Nervous System Diseases
Spinal Cord Diseases
Heredodegenerative Disorders, Nervous System
Neurodegenerative Diseases
Genetic Diseases, Inborn
Nicotinic Agonists
Cholinergic Agonists
Cholinergic Agents
Neurotransmitter Agents
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Physiological Effects of Drugs processed this record on April 21, 2017