Liver drug may slow Parkinson’s progression

Scientists are testing the effectiveness of a drug, currently used to treat liver ailments, in slowing down the progression of Parkinson’s disease. After screening 2,000 drugs, researchers from the University of Sheffield in the UK identified ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) as the most promising drug to rescue mitochondrial function in Parkinson’s disease.

The clinical trial will assess the safety and tolerability of the drug –which has been used to treat liver disease for over 30 years — in Parkinson’s patients. Scientists hope that the drug will be repositioned to help slow down the progression of the disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition severely affects a patient’s quality of life and symptoms include problems with mobility such as walking, coordination or tremor, but can also result in memory loss, low mood or abnormal bowel function. The symptoms of Parkinson’s are mainly due to the loss of dopamine containing nerve cells in the area of the brain which controls movement.

An important reason why these cells die in the brain of patients with Parkinsons is due to a malfunction of the cell’s batteries — known as mitochondria. The trial, led by Professor of Movement Disorders Neurology at the Sheffield Insitute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) and also an Honorary Consultant Neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was made possible due to the NIHR Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) for Neurological Disorders.

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