11 of 12 Parkinson's patients who completed the small clinical trial showed significant improvement in mental health and body movement.
A cancer drug has produced remarkable results on patients suffering from Parkinson’s.
The drug, called Nilotinib, is an FDA-approved drug and has already been used for treating leukemia but the drug is also found significantly helpful in reducing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease with dementia or a related condition called ‘Lewy body dementia.’
In a small clinical trail, 12 people with Parkinson’s disease were given small doses of the drug for a period of six months and the impact was startling.
Researchers found improvement in mental health and body movement in 11 of 12 patients. In some patients, it just reversed the physical and mental symptoms of Parkinson’s disease as one of the female patients regained the ability to feed herself, one man was able to walk on his own without using walker and three patients started to speak again who lost their speaking ability earlier.
“After 25 years in Parkinson’s disease research, this is the most excited I’ve ever been,” said Fernando Pagan, an associate professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center. “To my knowledge, this study represents the first time a therapy appears to reverse – to a greater or lesser degree depending on stage of disease – cognitive and motor decline in patients with these neurodegenerative disorders.”
The findings were presented at the 45th annual meeting of Society of Neuroscience held in Chicago. Researchers reported that 150 to 300 mg dose of Nilotinib was given to the patients for a trial period of six month. It produced benefits for all the participants who completed the trail (11 of 12) with 10 of them exhibited ‘meaningful clinical improvements.’
Positive changes were also observed in cerebrospinal fluid and in Tau and p-Tau levels, which are the biomarkers of Parkinson’s.
“The changes in Tau and p-Tau, a synuclein and Abeta-40 and 42 in spinal fluid suggest the clearance of toxic proteins in the brain.” Pagan said. Stopping Nilotinib treatment apparently led to cognitive and motor decline.
In this small trial, researchers also found that the drug is safe for patients with Parkinson’s disease with no serious side-effects and had been most effective when used in the early stages of the disease.
“Study participants with earlier stage disease responded best, as did those diagnosed with Lewy body dementia.” Pagan said.
One of the patients who participated in the trail was Allan Hoffman, who is a retired professor of social science education at Georgia State University. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1997 and has participated in many clinical trials with no benefit.
“Before the nilotinib, I did almost nothing around the house. Now I empty the garbage, unload the dishwasher, load the washer and the dryer, set the table and even take responsibility for grilling.” Hoffman said.
Hoffman’s speech and thinking has also improved over the short span of six months.
“My wife says it’s life-changing for her and for my children and grandchildren. To say that nilotinib has made a change in our lives is an understatement.” He said.
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Hoffman and other participants will continue taking drug as a part of the expended studies because Pagan and other researchers involved in the study believe that “it is critical to conduct larger and more comprehensive studies before determining the drug’s true impact.”