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Stopping Parkinson's disease

It may be possible to stop the progression of Parkinson’s disease with a drug usually used for type 2 diabetes.

The news follows a clinical trial involving 60 patients.

Current drugs help manage the symptoms, but do not prevent brain cells dying.

But exenatide, which is from a class of compounds originally isolated from lizard venom, could slow or stop progress.

Researchers gave exenatide to 31 people with moderate Parkinson’s disease over 48 weeks. They injected the drug every day, except the day before assessments. 

While 29 people with a similar level of disease did the same with a placebo.

Eight weeks after the conclusion of the trial, the research team assessed all the volunteers’ symptoms. 

Those who had received the placebo had deteriorated by an average of three points on a 200-point scale – a typical rate of decline for people with Parkinson’s.

Those who had taken exenatide showed an average improvement of one point, putting them four points
ahead of the placebo group. 

Brain scans also showed that those taking the drug had less degeneration. 

However, these effects were subtle – they didn’t perform better in cognitive tests, and there was no visible improvement in their day-to-day symptoms.

The findings of the trials are published in The Lancet.

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