Although there are several treatments to alleviate the debilities of Parkinson’s disease, a new drug that directly targets the causes of the disease could provide more substantial and lasting relief.
The drug, nilotinib, made by drug major Novartis, has been found to reverse the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, allowing people taking part in a safety trial to regain their ability to talk, get out of bed and feed themselves.
“We’ve seen patients at end stages of the disease coming back to life,” says Charbel Moussa of Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington DC, who led the trial. Tests in animals showed promise, so the team set up a small trial of 12 volunteers with Parkinson’s disease to whom the drug was given as a daily oral dose for six months.
At the start of the trial, the volunteers were at advanced stages of disease, but once they started taking the drug, all the volunteers began to improve, some just three weeks later. The team thinks nilotinib is the first drug that can target the root cause of Parkinson’s disease and provide more than temporary relief.
Other neurologists are excited by the results, but warn that no firm conclusions can be drawn until the drug has been tested in a larger trial with a control group taking a placebo. Moussa’s team is now enrolling people with a range of disorders that involve accumulating brain proteins, including Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, for a larger, placebo-controlled trial.
Though there were no side-effects observed in the use of nilotinib, unfortunately, the effect of the drug does not seem to last and conditions deteriorated once the patient stopped taking the drug.