The results of a Parkinson’s disease clinical trial suggest that the type 2 diabetes drug exenatide may work as a treatment that can slow or even stop the disease. Patients who injected the drug every week for 48 weeks performed better in movement tests than those who injected a placebo.
The difference between the two groups was still detectable 12 weeks after they stopped the injections, according to a report on the trial that is published in The Lancet.
The investigators, led by University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom, say that the drug was well tolerated and that the encouraging results pave the way for a larger trial to formally test whether or not the drug actually stops nerve cells from dying.
“This is a very promising finding, as the drug holds potential to affect the course of the disease itself, and not merely the symptoms,” says senior study author Tom Foltynie, a professor in the UCL Institute of Neurology.
He explains that current treatments for Parkinson’s disease can relieve many of the symptoms, sometimes for years, but they do not stop the disease from getting worse.
Parkinson’s disease is a brain-wasting disorder that primarily attacks a part of the brain known as the substantia nigra. As it progresses, it destroys the neurons, or nerve cells, that make dopamine, which is a chemical messenger important for controlling movement.
Worldwide, there are more than 10 million people living with Parkinson’s disease, including around 1 million in the United States.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include: tremors in the face, jaw, limbs, and hands; impaired balance, gait, and posture; muscle rigidity; problems with speech; fatigue; and sleep disturbance.
In most cases, Parkinson’s symptoms only become apparent after a large proportion of dopamine cells have already been affected.
Despite much research, we do not yet know what causes Parkinson’s disease. Many experts believe that the trigger is a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Drug stimulates GLP-1 receptors
The drug exenatide is already licensed…