Exenatide, a commonly prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes, could possibly be repurposed as a modifying therapy for patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Injections of exenatide showed signs of improving movement in Parkinson’s patients over a one year period versus those who took placebo, suggested a new study.
Researchers at the University College London followed 60 people with Parkinson’s disease as they self-injected either exenatide or a placebo once a week for 48 weeks in addition to regular medications.
Results indicated the patients who performed the exenatide injections exhibited better motor function at 48 weeks when they came off the treatment. This effect persisted after the 12-week follow up.
By contrast, the group who injected the placebo showed a decline in their motor scores at both the 48-week and 60-week tests, according to the announcement.
Overall, the control group had an advantage of four points on a 132 point scale of measures like tremors and agility, which was deemed statistically significant.
Exenatide’s mechanism of action is that it activates receptors for the GLP-1 hormone in the pancreas in order to stimulate insulin release. These receptors can also be found in the brain where prior research has shown that activating them can boost function of dopamine connections, engage cell survival signals and serve as an anti-inflammatory.
“Using approved therapies for one condition to treat another, or drug repurposing, offers new avenues to speed Parkinson’s therapeutic development,” said Brian Fiske, senior vice president of research programs at the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the primary funder of this study. “The results from the exenatide studies justify continued testing, but clinicians and patients are urged not to add exenatide to their regimens until more is known about their safety and impact on Parkinson’s.”
Previous experiments in animal models illustrated the drug’s ability to improve motor performance, but the scientists running this analysis noted the research did not conclusively determine whether drug was actually modifying the disease itself.
The next phase of this research will involve a longer-term study with more participants to ascertain if there are prominent improvements in quality of life.
These findings were published in the journal The Lancet.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery