New drugs may improve quality of life for people with Parkinson's disease. Three studies released today present possible positive news for people with Parkinson's disease. Many Parkinson's disease sufferers wonder what to do when after time, the effects of drugs they're taking start to wear off, and the symptoms return gradually or with a vengeance.
The latest studies, which currently is being presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 16 to 23, 2013, report on treatments for blood pressure problems, the wearing-off that can occur when people have taken the main drug for Parkinson's for a long time, and for people early in the disease whose symptoms are not well-controlled by their main drugs. Also check out the site, "Vitamin K2 May Help Shaky Nerves and Parkinson's | Health."
Three studies released on March 14, 2013 present possible positive news for people with Parkinson's disease. The studies, which will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 16 to 23, 2013, report on treatments for blood pressure problems, the wearing-off that can occur when people have taken the main drug for Parkinson's for a long time, and for people early in the disease whose symptoms are not well-controlled by their main drugs.
"All of these treatments are promising news for people with Parkinson's disease, which is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's disease," said Robert A. Hauser, MD, MBA, of the University of South Florida in Tampa and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, who was an author of all three studies, according to the March 14, 2013 news release, "New drugs may improve quality of life for people with Parkinson's disease."
Parkinson's sufferers often deal with a rapid drop in blood pressure when standing up
The first study dealt with the rapid drop in blood pressure that people with Parkinson's can experience when standing up, which can lead to dizziness, fainting and falls. The problem, which affects about 18 percent of people with the disease, occurs because the autonomic nervous system fails to respond to changes in posture by releasing enough of the chemical norepinephrine.
In the study, 225 people were randomized to receive either eight weeks of stable dose treatment with a placebo or the drug droxidopa, which converts to norepinephrine. After one week of stable treatment, those who received the drug had a clinically meaningful, two-fold decrease in the symptoms of dizziness and lightheadedness, when compared to placebo. They also had fewer falls, or 0.38 falls per patient per week, compared to 1.73 for those receiving a placebo on average over the entire 10-week study duration.
Issues about drugs wearing off after time in new study
The second study looked at treatment with a new drug for "wearing-off" that occurs with people who have been taking levodopa for several years. As each dose wears off, people experience longer periods of time where the motor symptoms do not respond to levodopa.
For the study, 420 people who were experiencing an average of six hours of "off" time per day received a placebo or one of four dosages of the drug tozadenant in addition to their levodopa for 12 weeks. People receiving two of the dosages of the drug had slightly more than an hour less off time per day at the end of 12 weeks than they had at the start of the study. They also did not have more troublesome involuntary movements during their "on" time, called dyskinesia, that can occur.
The third study looked at 321 people with early Parkinson's disease whose symptoms were not well-controlled by a dopamine agonist drug. For the 18-week study, the participants took either the drug rasagiline or a placebo in addition to their dopamine agonist. At the end of the study, those taking rasagiline had improved by 2.4 points on a Parkinson's disease rating scale. In addition, rasagiline was well tolerated with adverse events similar to placebo.
Chelsea Therapeutics supported the blood pressure study. Biotie Therapies, Inc.supported the "wearing-off" study. And Teva Pharmaceuticals supported the early Parkinson's disease study. Learn more about Parkinson's disease at the AAN patients website.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 25,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit the AAN site. AAN also is on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.
Also check out the video, ""A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson's" November 12, 2012. The event four months ago was attended by 950 guests and raised more than $4.5 million. The Michael Fox Foundation Board of Directors underwrites the cost of the event so all the money raised goes to Parkinson's research. In his remarks Michael J. Fox said, according to the video website, "There's nothing we can't achieve together. Thank you for everything you do."'
Vitamin K2 or drugs for Parkinson's?
Can vitamin K2 offer new hope for Parkinson's patients? Genetics isn't always destiny, since new research has shown that scientists have now reversed the effect of one of the genetic defects that leads to Parkinson's disease using vitamin K-2.
Check out the May 11, 2012 news release, "Vitamin K2: New hope for Parkinson's patients?" based on a study from VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology) and in collaboration with colleagues from Northern Illinois University, published May 11, 2012 in the journal Science.
Neuroscientist Patrik Verstreken, associated with VIB and KU Leuven, succeeded in undoing the effect of one of the genetic defects that leads to Parkinson's using vitamin K2. His discovery gives hope to Parkinson's patients.
"It appears from our research that administering vitamin K2 could possibly help patients with Parkinson's. However, more work needs to be done to understand this better," says Patrik Verstreken, according to the news release.
Malfunctioning power plants are at the basis of Parkinson's.
If we looked at cells as small factories, then mitochondria would be the power plants responsible for supplying the energy for their operation. They generate this energy by transporting electrons.
In Parkinson's patients, the activity of mitochondria and the transport of electrons have been disrupted, resulting in the mitochondria no longer producing sufficient energy for the cell. This has major consequences as the cells in certain parts of the brain will start dying off, disrupting communication between neurons. The results are the typical symptoms of Parkinson's: lack of movement (akinesia), tremors and muscle stiffness.
Paralyzed fruit flies
Fruit flies (Drosophila) are frequently used in lab experiments because of their short life spans and breeding cycles, among other things. Within two weeks of her emergence, every female is able to produce hundreds of offspring. By genetically modifying fruitflies, scientists can study the function of certain genes and proteins.
Patrik Verstreken and his team used fruitflies with a genetic defect in PINK1 or Parkin that is similar to the one associated with Parkinson's. They found that the flies with a PINK1 or Parkin mutation lost their ability to fly.
Upon closer examination, they discovered that the mitochondria in these flies were defective, just as in Parkinson's patients. Because of this they generated less intracellular energy – energy the insects needed to fly.
When the flies were given vitamin K2, the energy production in their mitochondria was restored and the insects' ability to fly improved. The researchers were also able to determine that the energy production was restored because the vitamin K2 had improved electron transport in the mitochondria. This in turn led to improved energy production.
Scientists concluded that vitamin K2 plays a role in energy production even when mitochondria also are defective
Vitamin K2 plays a role in the energy production of defective mitochondria. Because defective mitochondria are also found in Parkinson's patients with a PINK1 or Parkin mutation, vitamin K2 potentially offers hope for a new treatment for Parkinson's.
The exact cause of this neurodegenerative disease is not known. In recent years, however, scientists have been able to describe several genetic defects (mutations) found in Parkinson's patients, including the so-called PINK1 and Parkin mutations, which both lead to reduced mitochondrial activity. By studying these mutations, scientists hope to unravel the mechanisms underlying the disease process.