Liver Drug Could Treat Parkinson's Disease

Posted: Aug 11 2015, 7:16am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Liver Drug could Treat Parkinson's Disease
Picture A shows a patient without Parkinson's disease and Picture B shows a patient with Parkinson's. Modified from Obeso JA et al. Nat. Med. 2010
  • Liver Drug could Treat Parkinsonian Symptoms

It was found that a drug for the liver could treat Parkinsonian symptoms.

Research points towards a liver drug that has proven effective against Parkinson’s Disease. It's called ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA). And the drug has become the new beacon of light for those suffering from the disease.

UDCA could be an effective treatment to slow down progression of Parkinson’s disease, scientists from the University of Sheffield have discovered.

UDCA had a beneficial effect on those with LRRK2 and Parkinsons. It also had a relieving effect on those with symptomless LRRK2. The mitochondria of both patients improved in their functioning. And cell energy and oxygenation got better too. UDCA may be a Godsend for those with other types of Parkinson as well.

Dr Heather Mortiboys, Parkinson’s UK Senior Research Fellow from the University of Sheffield, explained: “We demonstrated the beneficial effects of UDCA in the tissue of LRRK2 carriers with Parkinson’s disease as well as currently asymptomatic LRRK2 carriers. In both cases, UDCA improved mitochondrial function as demonstrated by the increase in oxygen consumption and cellular energy levels.”

Oliver Bandmann, Professor of Movement Disorders Neurology at the University of Sheffield and Honorary Consultant Neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, added: “Whilst we have been looking at Parkinson’s patients who carry the LRRK2 mutation, mitochondrial defects are also present in other inherited and sporadic forms of Parkinson’s, where we do not know the causes yet. Our hope is therefore, that UDCA might be beneficial for other types of Parkinson’s disease and might also show benefits in other neurodegenerative diseases.”

Several other neurodegenerative illnesses may also get treated via UDCA. The drug seems to affect the dopamine levels in the brain. The neurons that act as transmitters of dopamine are especially importance in Parkinsons Disease.

What was known is that mutations in the LRRK2 gene cause Parkinsons. But it is a great mystery how the disease progresses towards its final conclusion. Mitochondrial deformations may be to blame for the manifestation of Parkinsons.

These mitochondrial defects lead to flagging energy levels. This effects the nervous energy of the patient. Survival becomes a struggle as the power generators of the body go out of order.

Professor Bandmann added: “Following on from the promising results of our in vitro drug screen, we were keen to further investigate and confirm the potential of UDCA in vivo – in a living organism.

“UDCA has been in clinical use for decades and thus could be advanced to the clinic rapidly if it proves beneficial in clinical trials.”

UDCA is currently getting screened for this specific purpose. It could end up getting prescribed for Parkinsons Disease. That is aside from being a standard liver drug. Experiments so far have only tested the results on fruit flies.

The dopamine signaling returned once the insects got fed UDCA. Every year Parkinsons Disease affects 127,000 people in the UK alone. It is a scourge. The sufferers start to lose balance. And they also quiver and shake as they perform daily activities.

The shaking of the limbs gets worse over time. The end result is not pretty to watch. To be rid from this malady would be a relief of the highest kind. With UDCA, that dream just might come true.

Dr Elliott said: “The treatment of fruit flies carrying the faulty LRRK2 gene with UDCA showed a profound rescue of dopaminergic signalling. Feeding the flies with UDCA partway through their life slows the rate at which the fly brain then degenerates. Thus, mitochondrial rescue agents may be a promising novel strategy for disease-modifying therapy in LRRK2-related Parkinson’s.”

Parkinsons and motor neuron disease are two afflictions that plague modern man. Such celebs as the famed boxer, Muhammad Ali and diminutive star, Michael J. Fox are poster children for the disease.

The message is clear. A drug's needed to counter the nasty effects of the malediction. The fact is that no sure cure is available right now. This only serves to highlight the search for such a medicinal nostrum. Time alone will tell if UDCA is the solution that we have all been waiting for.

Dr Arthur Roach, Director of Research and Development at Parkinson’s UK, which part-funded the study, said: “There is a tremendous need for new treatments that can slow or stop Parkinson’s.

“Because of this urgency, the testing of drugs like UCDA, which are already approved for other uses, is extremely valuable. It can save years, and hundreds of millions of pounds.

“It’s particularly encouraging in this study that even at relatively low concentrations the liver drug still had an effect on Parkinson’s cells grown in the lab.

“This type of cutting-edge research is the best hope of finding better treatments for people with Parkinson’s in years, not decades.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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