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Diabetes Medication Could Help Treat Parkinson’s

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A medicine used primarily to treat people with diabetes could be an important key to helping patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Exenatide, a glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP 1) receptor agonist used to regulate blood sugar levels in diabetics, may work as a treatment to stop Parkinson’s symptoms. The drug could also possibly prevent Parkinson’s from becoming more severe in the future, Tech Times reports.

Researchers at the University College London, with the help of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and the Department of Health National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centres, conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to test how well exenatide could work for Parkinson’s patients. Participants between the ages of 25 and 75 years old were randomly given a placebo or the exenatide medication. During the entire study, none of the participants or administrators knew what the patients were receiving.

The treatment went on for 48 weeks, and another 12 weeks was spent in additional studies during the time that the participants were not given any injections. The researchers found that those on exenatide showed a modest improvement in their motor skills, while those on placebos got worse.

Upon examining the long-term effects of the drug, the positive effects appear to have been sustained even past the treatment period. But it’s still unclear whether the drug was able to treat the cause of Parkinson’s, or just the symptoms.

The results were enough to show promising evidence that could be useful in future research on the same topic. Longer trials could validate the drug’s treatment potentials, and other similar medications could be repurposed to target Parkinson’s specifically. The researchers believe that conducting trials on a bigger population could lead to more positive results.

For now, the researchers think it could take years before Exenatide can be used as a treatment for Parkinson’s, so doctors and patients alike are cautioned not to use the medication for anything other than diabetes.

The study was published in The Lancet.

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