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Can a diabetes medication lead to improved treatment for Parkinson's?
Researchers have now found that a drug to treat diabetes can also help people with Parkinson's disease. The investigated drug helps those affected to better control their problems with their movements.
The University College London scientists found that a drug called exenatide was able to reduce movement problems in people with Alzheimer's. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "The Lancet".
Can Exenatid Slow Parkinson's Progress?
In the UK alone, around 162,000 people with Parkinson's disease will live by 2020. So far, there have been medications that control the symptoms of the disease, but there are no means available to slow or completely stop the disease, the authors say. However, scientists have now found that a medication to treat type 2 diabetes leads to an improvement in movement problems. This positive effect persisted even if the drug was not taken for a period of twelve weeks. This suggested that exenatide may slow the progression of Parkinson's.
Results could lead to a novel treatment for Parkinson's
If the results of the study can be replicated in a multicentre study, this can lead to a novel treatment for Parkinson's, explains author Thomas Foltynie, professor of neurology at University College London. Recent studies indicate that problems with brain insulin signaling could be linked to neurodegenerative diseases, the experts say. Therefore, there was hope among medical professionals that diabetes medication could also be used to treat Parkinson's disease.
Doctors examine 60 subjects with Parkinson's
However, the latest research is the first clinical trial of the drug that randomly assigned sixty people with Parkinson's to one of two different treatment groups to determine whether exenatide could also be used to treat Parkinson's. The subjects received an injection of exenatide or a placebo either once a week, the scientists explain.
Subjects were examined before and after taking the medication
At the beginning of the study and later every twelve weeks, the mobility of participants in both groups was assessed on a scale, the researchers explain. It was particularly about tremors, limb stiffness and the ability to keep balance. The evaluation was done early in the day, before the participants had taken their usual medication. The evaluation was repeated later, when the sufferers had already taken their medication, the authors say.
Taking exenatide led to improved results
Without medication, the rating of people with Parkinson's in this test worsens by three points each year, on a total rating scale of 132 points. After 48 weeks of testing, it was observed that treatment with exenatide resulted in a one-point improvement in humans, the doctors say. If the subjects took a placebo, the value fell by three points during this period, the researchers add.
Twelve weeks later, exenatide patients showed 3.5 points better results
When the patients were assessed twelve weeks later, the team found that people treated with exenatide had 3.5 points better results than the placebo-taking subjects. The study suggests that exenatide not only helps control the symptoms of Parkinson's, but can also slow the progression of the disease, the authors explain. If the use of the drug is a cumulative benefit, i.e. if the results of the tests deteriorate by six points in patients with placebo after two years and the values of the exenatide group remain stable, exenatide actually causes the progression of the disease to continue. ( as)