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Can Parkinson's be stopped

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I thought most of you would be interested in this, so I decided to post this article from The BBC Health and Science section
First hints Parkinson's can be stopped
By James GallagherHealth and science reporter, BBC News website
Brain scansImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

It may be possible to stop the progression of Parkinson's disease with a drug normally used in type 2 diabetes, a clinical trial suggests.

Current drugs help manage the symptoms, but do not prevent brain cells dying.

The trial on 62 patients, published in the Lancet, hints the medicine halted the progression of the disease.

The University College London (UCL) team is "excited", but it urges caution as any long-term benefit is uncertain and the drug needs more testing.

"There's absolutely no doubt the most important unmet need in Parkinson's is a drug to slow down disease progression, it's unarguable," Prof Tom Foltynie, one of the researchers, told the BBC.

In Parkinson's, the brain is progressively damaged and the cells that produce the hormone dopamine are lost.

It leads to a tremor, difficulty moving and eventually memory problems.

Therapies help manage symptoms by boosting dopamine levels, but the death of the brain continues and the disease gets worse.

No drug stops that happening.


In the trial, half of patients were given the diabetes drug exenatide and the rest were given a placebo (dummy treatment). All the patients stayed on their usual medication.

As expected, those on just their usual medication declined over 48 weeks of treatment. But those given exenatide were stable.

And three months after the experimental treatment stopped, those who had been taking exenatide were still better off.

Prof Foltynie told the BBC News website: "This is the first clinical trial in actual patients with Parkinson's where there has been anything like this size of effect.

"It gives us confidence exenatide is not just masking symptoms, it's doing something to the underlying disease.

"We have to be excited and encouraged, but also cautious as we need to replicate these findings."

Early days

They also need to trial the drug for much longer periods of time.

An effective drug would need to hold back the disease for years in order to make a significant difference to patients.

Parkinson's progresses slowly and the difference in this 60-week trial was definitely there, but was "trivial" in terms of the impact on day-to-day life, say the researchers.

The drug helps control blood sugar levels in diabetes by acting on a hormone sensor called GLP-1.

Those sensors are found in brain cells too. It is thought the drug makes those cells work more efficiently or helps them to survive.

It is why the drug is being tested in other neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's.

David Dexter, the deputy director of research at Parkinson's UK, said: "The findings offer hope that drugs like exenatide can slow the course of Parkinson's -  something no current treatment can do.

"Because Parkinson's can progress quite gradually, this study was probably too small and short to tell us whether exenatide can halt the progression of the condition, but it's certainly encouraging and warrants further investigation."

Dr Brian Fiske, from the The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, said: "The results from the exenatide studies justify continued testing, but clinicians and patients are urged not to add exenatide to their regimens until more is known about their safety and impact on Parkinson's."

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Dear Pharmacist, I have read that some PWP on this Forum have already started using this exenatide medication,but they cannot really assess the benefits of the drug.I guess nobody currently knows how long one has to be on this drug before you notice any benefit.How much information do you have about drugs used in treating other medical conditions,being effectively used to slow down or cure PD during trials? Or drugs for other medical conditions causing PD after long term use?I read an article about norwegian researchers,who studied about a million patients,who were prescribed salbutamol for asthma and beta blocker propananol for blood pressure on a long term basis.The patients on albuthamol,were found not to have developed PD, and the ones on propananol developed PD after many years.So the scientists, concluded that there is probably a link between beta blockers and the cause of PD in those patients,who used propananol on a long term.They also suggested that salbutamol may be used to prevent or stop PD,being a beta 2 agonist.What are your views about this study?I think more studies like this should be done to determine the long term effect of alot of medications for treating different conditions.Big pharma usually list short term effects, of medications,I am not sure if long term effects of most drugs are adequately studied or listed.Could it be that some medications have different long term effects on different people?I have been on propananol for couple of years before,for panic attack treatment,and now I am beginning to think,it might have something to do with my PD.The article also stated that,people should seek alternative medication for treating BP instead of Beta blockers to avoid developing PD.Please respond with your expertise.

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I agree with you that there is a chance that other medications may help with PD, but to just start trying other medications would be a task upon itself. Usually when a drung company finds out that their medication may work on other issues is usually by accident. Here are a few examples:

1- Minoxidil is marketed as a blood pressure medication, but the researchers found that it caused the side effect of hair growth. Now we can find it in a topical form, Rogaine, over the counter.

2- Benadryl is marketed as an antihistamine for allergies. During the research phase it was found to cause drowsiness. At one point not to long ago, it was the number one sleep aid used in hospitals.

3- There are also many examples of older antidepressants, like Trazadone, are better used now as sleep aides than what they are as antidepressants.

I guess to make a long story short, one a medication is found to possibly help with a different ailment, that drug company and others will look at the whole class of those medications to see if they can be the first to market with an older medication with a new indication. This can then turn into more money because that older generic medication  can then get a new Brand name and be sold for a higher price.

I hope this helps and please keep me posted.

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 This medication, who's brand name is Bydureon, is available in the United States in an injectable form. Unfortunately, it cannot be used for the relief of Parkinson's symptoms. It is specifically used for Diabetes and any use other than for Diabetes is called "off label" and is against the law. Plus it is still in clinical trials and, until it passes the clinical trial, will only be used for diabetes.

I hope this helps and please keep me posted.

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