File Picture: Diabetes drug could stop Parkinson's

A DIABETES drug could be a breakthrough treatment for stopping Parkinson’s disease in its tracks, a study suggests.

People with Parkinson’s who took Exenatide, which has been used to treat Type 2 diabetes since 2005, for around a year had better motor skills than those who took a placebo.

The results suggest the drug could halt decline in Parkinson’s patients rather than just relieving symptoms.

In the study, researchers from University College London followed 60 Parkinson’s patients who injected themselves once a week for 48 weeks with either Exenatide or a placebo, in addition to their regular medications.

After the treatment, those who took the drug had improved their motor function – measures such as tremors, agility and speech – while those who took the placebo had declined.

In diabetes, Exenatide works by activating hormone receptors in the pancreas to stimulate the release of insulin.

But the same receptors exist in the brain, and scientists believe activating them can boost dopamine function and stop inflammation. In Parkinson’s, dopamine-producing cells become damaged, so preventing this could help stop the progression of the disease.

The research, which is published in The Lancet today, was welcomed by David Dexter of charity Parkinson’s UK, who said: ‘These results build upon an earlier, smaller trial and offer encouragement that diabetes treatments could provide new treatments for Parkinson’s.’

© Daily Mail