Safety and efficacy of octanoic acid in the treatment of essential tremor

News Release

Thursday, June 9, 2011
Media Contact:
Elizabeth Clausen, (414) 276-2145,
MDS Press Room: Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building, Room 705


TORONTO - A study evaluating the safety and efficacy of a single dose of octanoic acid (OA) in subjects with essential tremor (ET) was presented today at The Movement Disorder Society's 15th International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders.

The long chain alcohol 1-octanol has been demonstrated to effectively alleviate tremor symptoms in ET. Dr. Deitrich Haubenberger of the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland explored the suggested effect through its metabolite, octanoic acid.

Through a double-blind placebo-controlled crossover phase 1-2 clinical trail assessing the effect of a single oral dose of octanoic acid in 19 ED subjects, postural tremor power was recorded using accelerometry at baseline and multiple time-points up to 5 hours after administration. No signs of intoxication were observed and adverse events were mild and equally present in the OA and placebo group. While many people with ET find relief from rest and alcohol consumption, ET patients received similar relief with no signs of intoxication from octanoic acid.

Roger Elble, MD, PhD, of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, states, "Many patients with ET experience significant benefit from ethanol. The question is whether some other alcohol would be more beneficial and less intoxicating. Hallett and colleagues at the NINDS previously showed that octanol was superior to placebo in ethanol-responsive ET patients. In this study, Haubenberger found that the metabolite of octanol, octanoic acid, is superior to placebo, suggesting that octanoic acid is the active agent. This was only a single dose study, and the efficacy of octanolol/octanoic acid needs to be confirmed in a longer randomized placebo-control trial. The effect of octanoic acid was no better than that previously reported for propranolol and primidone. It is unclear whether all ET patients respond or only those that are ethanol-responsive."

About the 15th International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders

Meeting attendees are gathered to learn the latest research findings and state-of-the-art treatment options for Movement Disorders, including Parkinson's disease. More than 3,200 physicians and medical professionals from 74 countries will be able to view over 1,100 scientific abstracts submitted by clinicians from around the world.

About The Movement Disorder Society

The Movement Disorder Society, an international society of over 3,000 clinicians, scientists, and other healthcare professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. For more information about The Movement Disorder Society, visit



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