The Latest News: Diabetes Drug Exenatide may Aid against Parkinson’s Disease

Michael J. Fox Speaks about Parkinson's disease

The latest news: A new research study claims that the Type II Diabetes drug, Exenatide, may aid individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.

The study was performed by the University College in London, the Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neuroscience Centre in London, and the National Institute of Aging in Baltimore. It was published online in the medical journal The Lancet.

The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation estimates that about 1 million people are living with Parkinson’s and about 60,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S.

While there is no known cure for Parkinson’s, there are drugs that have been shown to control the symptoms. This new study shows that Exenatide seems to improve movement-related issues stemming from Parkinson’s Disease.

Thomas Foltynie, professor of neurology at University College London and co-author of the study, said, “It is not ready for us to say ‘well, everyone needs to start this drug,” He continued,

“[But] if we can replicate these findings in a multicenter trial, especially with longer follow-up, then this can change the face of our approach to treating Parkinson’s.”

The latest news study was funded by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and the Department of Health National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centres.

Fox was diagnosed with the disease at age 30. He has been an identifiable face for Parkinson’s Disease and the need for research.

Most cases are diagnosed when the patient is around 60 years old. Some, like Fox, are diagnosed earlier.

What is Exenatide?

Exenatide, a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, is a synthetic version of exendin-4, a naturally occurring analogue of human GLP-1 that was originally discovered in the saliva of the Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum).

It activates receptors for the GLP-1 hormone in the pancreas to stimulate insulin release and was approved by the FDA in 2005 for patients whose diabetes was not well-controlled on other oral medication.

How may it help Parkinson’s Disease?

Prior evidence in animal models demonstrated that exenatide improved motor performance. Another study also found early evidence that it could be a disease-modifying agent for Parkinson’s disease, but it was an open-label trial.

The new study, published in the journal Lancet, strengthens the existing evidence as the first randomized, placebo-controlled trial of the drug for Parkinson’s patients.

Senior author Professor Tom Foltynie, of the University College London Institute of Neurology announced, “This is a very promising finding, as the drug holds potential to affect the course of the disease itself, and not merely the symptoms.”

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