Health and Medicine Neuroscience

Dementia Drug Could Help Those With Parkinson’s

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A new study, using an existing drug for dementia, has shown that it may be effective against Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a type of neurodegenerative disease that affects the muscles. The disease is progressive, and it can take several years for the disease to become apparent. In the US alone, up to one million people may have the condition. The disease tends to affect men more than women. Due to the high number of cases, considerable investment goes into finding better treatment or even a cure.

Current medication can help to alleviate the symptoms; however there is no cure. The new research has shown that a drug designed to help with dementia can also help further with the symptoms of Parkinson’s. One of the problems associated with the neurological condition is with those affected losing balance and falling over. It is here that the drug shows marked success.

The investigation has been into a drug called rivastigmine. Lead researcher Dr. Emily Henderson said that with the degeneration of dopamine producing nerve cells, people with Parkinson’s are often having issues with stability when walking and they also have lower levels of acetylcholine, a chemical which helps us to concentrate – making it extremely difficult to pay attention to walking. Rivastigmine works to treat dementia by preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine, but their study shows for the first time that it can also improve regularity of walking, speed, and balance. This is a real breakthrough in reducing the risk of falls for people with Parkinson’s.

The research is published in the journal The Lancet Neurology, in a paper titled “Rivastigmine for gait stability in patients with Parkinson’s disease (ReSPonD): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial.”