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Parkinson’s Disease: Could A Drug For Liver Disease Slow Its Progression?

Parkinson’s Disease: Could A Drug For Liver Disease Slow Its Progression?

New findings published in the journal Neurology reveal that a liver drug could help to slow the progression of Parkinson’s Disease.
Researchers found that the drug ursodeoxycholic acid, which is used to decrease acids that are involved in liver disease, could address a mutation of the LRRK2 gene, which is commonly inherited via Parkinson’s disease.

“We demonstrated the beneficial effects of UDCA in the tissue of LRRK2 carriers with Parkinson’s disease as well as currently asymptomatic LRRK2 carriers,” said Dr. Heather Mortiboys, a Parkinson’s UK senior research fellow at the University of Sheffield, in a press release. “In both cases, UDCA improved mitochondrial function as demonstrated by the increase in oxygen consumption and cellular energy levels.”

In this study, researchers worked to demonstrate the beneficial effects of UDCA on dopaminergic neurons, otherwise known as the nerve cells affected in Parkinson’s disease, via a fly model of Parkinson’s disease that carries the same genetic change as some patients with the condition.

The researchers tested the drug in lab dishes, showing that UDCA held a positive effect on mitochondrial function that lead them to testing it on fruit flies.

They then fed UDCA to the flies with the LRRK2 mutation. Findings revealed that the mutation slowly began to decrease visual function, which allowed researchers to measure the progression of the disease. From there, they found that when the flies with the mutation received the drug, this slowed the degeneration of their brains.

“Whilst we have been looking at Parkinson’s patients who carry the LRRK2 mutation, mitochondrial defects are also present in other inherited and sporadic forms of Parkinson’s, where we do not know the causes yet,” said Oliver Bandmann, a professor of Movement Disorders Neurology at the University of Sheffield. “Our hope is therefore, that UDCA might be beneficial for other types of Parkinson’s disease and might also show benefits in other neurodegenerative diseases.”

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