Ozempic relative slowed Parkinson’s disease in small study| Trending Viral hub

In 1817, James Parkinson expressed a hope about the disease that bears his name. He thought that at some point there will be a discovery and “the advance of the disease can be stopped.”

Now, nearly 200 years since Parkinson’s expressed hope, and after four decades of failed clinical trials, a group of French researchers is reporting the first glimmer of success: a modest slowing of the disease in a one-year study.

And the drug they used? The so-called GLP-1 receptor agonist, similar to very popular drugs Ozempic, for diabetes, and Wegovy, for obesity.

As much as Half a million Americans have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative brain disease that is second in prevalence after Alzheimer’s.

Symptoms include tremors, slowness and stiffness, and difficulty with balance. This can cause difficulty walking, talking, and swallowing. Many patients develop dementia.

But there are medications and treatments, such as deep brain stimulation, that help, said Dr. David Standaert, a Parkinson’s expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“You will look and feel much better,” Dr. Standaert said. The problem is that the disease progresses inexorably.

“When you’ve had Parkinson’s for five or 10 years, a lot of problems arise,” he said.

The new study gave researchers cautious hope.

It’s not a sure-fire solution, but it is “nibbling at the boundaries of disease modification,” said Dr. Michael S. Okun, a Parkinson’s disease expert at the University of Florida, who was not involved in the study.

Dr. Standaert, who was also not involved in the trial, said it was “a really encouraging step forward.”

“There were many trials that were unsuccessful,” he added.

Dr. Hyun Joo Chu, of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said the study was “very important,” but cautioned that it was a Phase 2 study, designed to test a hypothesis, but not large enough. nor long enough to be definitive.

“There are many examples of very promising phase 2 trials,” he said. “People get really excited and then it doesn’t work.”

He paper, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, involved 156 people with early Parkinson’s disease who were randomly assigned to take the drug (lixisenatide, made by Sanofi) or a placebo and followed for a year. The trial was funded by the French government and Cure Parkinson’s, a British charity.

During that time, Parkinson’s symptoms such as tremor, stiffness, slowness and balance worsened in those who took the placebo, but not in those who took the drug.

The drug also caused gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea and vomiting in more than half of the participants, perhaps because the researchers started with the highest dose rather than gradually increasing it as is done with GLP-1 drugs such as Ozempic or Wegovy. In a third of participants whose side effects became intolerable, the researchers cut the dose in half.

For European researchers, led by Dr. Wassilios G. Meissner of the University of Bordeaux and Dr. Olivier Rascol of the University of Toulouse, it made sense to see if a GLP-1 drug could slow Parkinson’s.

Studies have repeatedly found that people with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, Dr. Rascol said. But that increased risk decreases in those who take a GLP-1 medication to treat their diabetes.

He added that post-mortem studies of brain tissue from Parkinson’s patients had found abnormalities related to insulin resistance, even though the patients did not have diabetes. GLP-1 medications treat insulin resistance.

Finally, he said, GLP-1 drugs can bind to proteins in neurons, so they can affect the brain in different ways.

The French group says it wants to conduct a larger, longer study if it can get funding and more of the drug. Earlier this year, Sanofi recalled the drug in the United States and said it had begun recalling it worldwide. The action was taken for commercial reasons, a company spokesperson said.

But what about Parkinson’s patients who have diabetes or obesity? They are eligible to receive a GLP-1 medication. Should they take one in the hopes that it will slow down their Parkinson’s?

“It’s reasonable” for them to take the medications, said Dr. Standaert, who wrote a editorial accompanying the study.

But, he warned, they won’t be able to know if the medications have slowed the progression of their disease because they won’t know what would have happened if they hadn’t taken them.

“We won’t learn anything from this,” he said.

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