A team of researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center have made a potentially huge breakthrough in the battle to beat Parkinson’s disease. The small clinical trial focused around testing an FDA approved cancer drug called nilotinib, which is used to treat leukemia. The trial produced some promising results among patients, and there’s hope that this can lead to a new line of treatment for Parkinson’s sufferers.
The six month Georgetown trial involved 12 patients that suffer from the disease, while many had dementia and were bed or wheelchair bound. Significant improvements were noticed in the patients’ cognition, walking speed, motor skills and speech, with some of the most severe sufferers regaining mobility and coordination. The improvement in the quality of life of the participating patients was marked, and further evidence of the trial’s success was that following its completion patients regressed and their symptoms returned.
The drug is believed to kill toxic proteins that can cause brain cells to die. It can also help to produce dopamine, a substance that is missing in the bodies of people with Parkinson’s disease, which is connected to moods and also motor functions.
Where to From Here?
While this is an exciting breakthrough, there is a long way to go yet. The drug is FDA approved, but not for the treatment of Parkinson’s.
The next phase of the trial is set to start with doctors at Georgetown next year, and if successful the drug could be made available for the treatment of Parkinson’s in the next three to five years.
This is an important and significant breakthrough, especially for the patients on the trial. While results have been dramatic and encouraging though, they have not always been consistent, and it’s clear that more research is required before nilotinib can be cleared for widespread use.