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Science News

Epilepsy Drug May Offer a Cheap and Easy way to Treat PD

A team of researchers led by Dr. Serge Przedborski at Columbia University have demonstrated that infusion of D-b-hydroxybutyrate (DbHB), a treatment used for epilepsy, appears to restore impaired brain function and protect against neurological degeneration in mice suffering from Parkinsonís.

The study was funded in part by the Parkinsonís Disease Foundation.

As reported in an article in the September 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Dr. Przedborski and colleagues first administered the neurotoxin MPTP to mice, causing them to adopt characteristics reminiscent of Parkinson disease, they infused the medication DbHB. What they found was that DbHB restored the function of mitochondria (the energy source within the cell) and protected against Parkinsonís-induced neurodegeneration and motor deficits. In fact, the levels of dopamine seen in mice treated with the medication remained constant whereas those treated with a placebo experienced a drop in these levels during the seven-day study. The study suggests a critical role for mitochondrial defect in Parkinson disease.

This type of medication is already successfully used in the treatment of epilepsy. It has the additional major advantages of being able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier that often prevents potentially beneficial drugs from entering the brain. Dr. Przedborski commenting on the study said: ďDbHB may be a straightforward neuroprotective strategy for the treatment of neruodegenerative diseases such as ParkinsonísĒ.

The full report can be found in "The Journal of Clinical Investigation", September 2003, Volume 112, Number 6.

Source Date: Sep 23 2003