Parkinson’s disease slowed by liver drug

A well-used liver disease drug has been proven to also be effective to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

The new study that found these results could quite possibly lead the way to clinical trials in which the drug, ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) would be used for Parkinson’s patients, according to The Siasat Daily.

“UDCA has been in clinical use for decades and thus could be advanced to the clinic rapidly if it proves beneficial in clinical trials,” said one of the researchers Oliver Bandmann, professor at the University of Sheffield in England.

Experts know that a mutation in the LRRK2 gene is the single most common inherited cause of Parkinson’s disease, but what they don’t know, is the exact mechanism that leads to Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s is in a pack of diseases in which defects in the powerhouse of the cell, mitochondria, cause reduced energy levels and is one of the factors that affects the nervous system in this group of diseases. Since nerve cells have a very high energy demand, defects in the cell’s energy generators crucially affects their survival.

“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,” Heather Mortiboy from the University of Sheffield explained.

“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,” Bandmann said.

When examining and analyzing fruit flies, the mitochondrial defects caused by the LRRK2 mutation to the brain cells can be clearly monitored by the progressive loss of their visual functions. But when the flies carrying this mutation were fed with UDCA, they were able to maintain their vision, a promising result showcasing the potential of the drug in use for Parkinson’s patients.

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