Parkinson’s breakthrough: New ‘life-changing’ drug could calm involuntary ticks
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Scientists are launching human trials of a “life-changing” drug that can alleviate involuntary and erratic “jerking” caused by Parkinson’s medication. Here’s the latest on the groundbreaking research.
The drug, NLX-112, has the potential to reduce dyskinesia and “improve movement symptoms of Parkinson’s”, said Parkinson’s UK.
The research charity explained: “Dyskinesias are involuntary, erratic, writhing movements of the face, arms, legs or trunk.
“They may also cause rapid jerking or slow and extended muscle spasms.”
Parkinson’s UK stated that up to 50 percent of people with Parkinson’s will experience dyskinesia after five years of taking levodopa.
Levodopa is one of the main drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease.
As it stands, the charity reported most people with Parkinson’s prefer to handle the troublesome side effects of levodopa rather than being unable to move.
However, for some people, dyskinesias can be a debilitating side effect when trying to manage their condition.
Speaking to the charity, Michael, 39, opened up about his struggle with dyskinesia.
“The side effect developed five years ago but it has ramped up recently, and I am struggling with my mental health as a result.
“I can cope with the stiffness but it’s the twitching movements that I am most embarrassed about. It really gets me down.”
This is why the charity’s collaboration with US biotech company Neurolixis could be life-changing.
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NLX-112 works by stabilising serotonin brain cells, which are otherwise thought to convert levodopa into dopamine and release it in an erratic way.
It’s this random release of dopamine that may contribute to the twitchy movements associated with dyskinesia.
Thus, treatment with NLX-112 can help reduce dopamine from being released randomly.
For a year, the drug was tested on monkeys with Parkinson-like symptoms that had developed dyskinesia in response to levodopa.
The positive results were published in the scientific journal Neuropharmacology.
It demonstrated that NLX-112 reduced dyskinesia without diminishing the therapeutic effects of levodopa.
As reported in The Times, the investigation is now moving onto the next stage – human trials.
The team at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden will be organising the volunteers.
This development follows the £1½m deal made between the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in New York and Parkinson’s UK.
The chief executive of the Michael J Fox Foundation, Todd Sherer, commented on the latest development.
Sherer said: “This collaboration with Parkinson’s UK is about combining our resources to advance this promising therapeutic approach from Neurolixis as quickly as we can.”
A public announcement regarding the latest development is expected this week.
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