Studies suggest possible future treatments to reverse Parkinson's

Scientists have found 'vital new evidence' towards halting the progression of Parkinson's disease, after an animal model study found that drugs could reverse problems arising from genetic defects.

MRI scan of a brain showing Parkinson's disease (Photo: Science Photo Library)
MRI scan of a brain showing Parkinson's disease (Photo: Science Photo Library)

Mutations in the LRRK2 gene in humans are known to be the most common genetic contributor to Parkinson’s disease, although the mechanisms have been poorly understood.

But in tests on in vitro rat neurons, University of Sheffield researchers found that these mutations interfere with how vital proteins and minerals are transported across nerve cells, causing impaired motor functions.

The study, published in Nature, also looked at fruit flies with faulty copies of the LRKK2 gene. It found that by targeting the transport system in these neurons with specific drugs, these defects could be reversed, thereby alleviating Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms in the flies.

'Rescue effect' for patients

The drugs, known as deacetylase inhibitors, work by restoring normal transport along the faulty neurons and therefore could have a ‘rescue effect’ in affected cells.

Study author Dr Alex Whitworth said: ‘By targeting the transport system with drugs, we could not only prevent movement problems, but also fully restore movement abilities in fruit flies who already showed impaired movement marked by a significant decrease in both climbing and flight ability.’

The authors concluded that the ‘very promising results’ show that drug treatments ‘may have therapeutic potential’ for treating humans with Parkinson’s, although much more research will be needed to see if the effects could be replicated outside of animal tests.

Dr Beckie Port, from Parkinson’s UK, which helped to fund the study, said: ‘This research gives hope that, for people with a particular mutation in their genes, it may one day be possible to intervene and stop the progression of Parkinson’s.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Two people interviewing a candidate

GP training: Preparing for an interview

GP trainer and partner Dr Pipin Singh provides advice to GP registrars approaching...

Professor Martin Marshall

Delay COVID jab mandate or GP practices could lose one in 10 staff, warns RCGP chair

The mandatory COVID-19 vaccine deadline for NHS staff should be delayed amid indications...

FFP3 mask

Call for rapid rollout of RPE to GPs after infection advice update

Doctors have called for rapid rollout of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to...

Vaccination tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

'What lies behind' exhibition

Social prescribing patients curate art exhibition at leading Cornish gallery

Patients from a GP surgery in Cornwall have curated an art exhibition at a leading...

Beccy Baird, senior fellow, King's Fund

PCNs need more support to recruit and integrate additional roles staff

General practice and PCNs need more support to integrate additional roles staff into...