Who would’ve thought that we would find a Parkinson’s disease treatment in liver disease drugs? Well, apparently the researchers that discovered these new encouraging results were just as baffled as you or me. This new finding is potentially life-changing for those suffering from the disease.
The miracle drug is Ursodeoxycholic acid, or UDCA, and can be found in drugs that are already commercially available. The fact that it is already approved and on the marked could potentially save years of research into the long term effects of using the drug, as well as into the side-effects of the drug.
After a new drug is confirmed as effective in treating a specific condition, it usually takes quite a long time and lengthy research to make the drug available to patients, as the FDA and other drug regulation agencies around the world require it.
The current study, which was published in the Neurology journal, was conducted by a collaborative team of scientists from the University of York and from the Institute of Translational Neuroscience in Sheffield, both in the UK. To get to these promising results, researchers tested the UDCA on fruit flies. This may indeed seem a bit odd, but it turns out that the gene mutation that causes the onset of Parkinson’s in humans is also found in some of the fruit fly nerve cells.
The mutation of the LRRK2 gene in flies causes blindness.
What the researchers found by applying UDCA to their tissues was that in both those who had this type of Parkinson’s, as well as those who had the LRRK2 gene mutation but did not exhibit the symptoms, their condition greatly improved.
The UDCA effectively revived the diseased and zombie cells, increasing their oxygen consumption levels as well as their mitochondrial function. Besides Parkinson’s disease, mutations of the LRRK2 gene can also help the onset of ALS, so the current research may prove twice as important it is now.
Fruit flies with the LRRK2 mutation develop severe loss of visual function, but after the researchers applied the UDCA drug, their brains seemed to degenerate at considerably slower rates, effectively preserving their vision to within normal levels.
Beyond the hard to imagine procedure of monitoring fruit fly vision, feeding fruit flies’ tissue UDCA drugs, and then assessing the results, these scientists have really provided valuable research in the hopes of one day ridding the world of Parkinson’s once and for all.
The director of the research, Dr. Arthur Roach of the Parkinson’s UK charity, has said that the current results are particularly encouraging.
Image source: newsucanuse.org