A diabetes drug has shown potential to treat Parkinson's disease, a major breakthrough that could have big implications toward how we treat the disease in the future.
Scientists have just achieved an important breakthrough in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, finding that a drug primarily meant to treat diabetes could also work as a treatment for the neurodegenerative disease. The drug exenatide has shown promise for affecting not just the symptoms of Parkinson’s, but also the course of the disease itself.
Current treatments for Parkinson’s allow doctors to deal with most of the symptoms for the disease for a number of years, but it doesn’t stop the disease from continuing to advance. This finding could provide a new lead in trying to find a way to reverse the progression of Parkinson’s in patients and even lead to a cure down the road.
Parkinson’s, the second most common neurodegenerative disease, results in muscle stiffness, chronic fatigue, and sleep disturbance. The study found that of the 60 people who took either exenatide or a placebo, those that got exenatide scored much higher in terms of agility, speech, and tremors than those on the placebo.
“This is a very promising finding, as the drug holds potential to affect the course of the disease itself, and not merely the symptoms,” said the study’s senior author, Professor Tom Foltynie (UCL Institute of Neurology). “With existing treatments, we can relieve most of the symptoms for some years, but the disease continues to worsen.”
“This is the strongest evidence we have so far that a drug could do more than provide symptom relief for Parkinson’s disease,” said Professor Foltynie.