One Step Closer to a New Parkinson’s Drug

By: Bel Marra Health | Brain Function | Friday, July 06, 2012 - 02:05 AM

 parkinson's disease treatmentParkinson’s disease is a severe condition characterized by the deterioration of the nerve cells of the brain and the rest of the central nervous system, ultimately causing problems with posture and movement, as well as memory loss or forgetfulness. The initial stages of the disease usually involve shaking of the arms and legs and a peculiar gait while walking, with an arched back and the head positioned forward. As the disease progresses, forgetfulness and other behavioral problems develop, including insomnia and emotional instability. Parkinson’s disease generally occurs among older adults, starting at the age of 50.

Since the first description of Parkinson’s disease in 1886, there has been a major effort in finding a treatment that would cure this specific condition. Parkinson’s disease may largely involve the degeneration of the nerve cells in the brain causing forgetfulness, but it also affects the quality of life of an individual. This brain disease may thus influence relationships with family members, friends, and co-workers, especially when forgetfulness, mood, and speech affect the quality of interactions. It is also possible for individuals positively diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease to develop depression, especially when forgetfulness and irritability frequently occur.

The Recent Study on a Possible Treatment

It a recent medical report published in the June issue of the journal PLoS One, the treatment of experimental mice with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease using sodium phenylbutyrate resulted in an improvement in brain motor function and normalized the activities of brain cells, possibly resulting in a decreased risk of cognition and forgetfulness. Sodium phenylbutyrate was initially considered as a treatment for disorders involving the urea cycle, which is a biochemical reaction that helps in the excretion of wastes such as urea and ammonia through the kidneys and liver. Individuals suffering from a disorder involving the urea cycle are unable to move these toxic wastes, thus requiring immediate treatment.

According to the PLoS report, treatment of experimental mice with sodium phenylbutyrate resulted in a decrease in the production of inflammatory molecules that were signs of brain degeneration. The amount of cholesterol was also lower after treatment with the drug, decreasing the chances of fat deposition between nerves in the brain, which may result in symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including forgetfulness and unstable behavior.

Interestingly, the treatment of these mouse models of Parkinson’s disease simply involved oral administration of the drug. The mice also did not show any signs of toxicity, although the dose used in the treatment was lower than that employed in urea cycle disorders. In another experiment using the mice, the treatment of sodium phenylbutyrate resulted in the improvement in motor functions, including an increase in the speed and distance that they have traveled in a defined laboratory setup. Dissection of the brain of each mouse showed that the expected amount of free radicals present in the tissues were significantly decreased, suggesting that the risk of forgetfulness and other mental activities improved after treatment with sodium phenylbutyrate.

Other molecules that represented inflammation of the cells of the brain also decreased, thus suggesting that the treatment with the drug may serve as a potential cure for Parkinson’s disease. Measurement of dopamine production in the animal models also showed normalized levels, thus suggesting that the drug might possess a capacity in preventing further deterioration of Parkinson’s disease. Dopamine production has earlier been strongly linked with the degree of forgetfulness or memory loss in various mental health disorders.

This recent report appears to be a promising approach in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Although conducted in experimental mice, the results of the study indicate that sodium phenylbutyrate may also help in the suppression of inflammation of the brain, as well as decrease the production of fat deposits in the brain, which are the major causes of forgetfulness in Parkinson’s disease.


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