Active ingredient like Weight Loss Injection: Diabetes medicine is also said to help with Parkinson's disease

Active ingredient like weight loss injection
The diabetes drug is also said to help with Parkinson's disease

As weight loss injections have recently been proven, diabetes medications can have positive side effects. Now Parkinson's patients can also benefit from the drug. According to a study, the active ingredient slows down the disease and stops the symptoms. But there were side effects.

Parkinson's is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's disease. In Germany alone, around 400,000 people are affected – and the trend is clearly growing. There is no cure. Neurologist Walter Birker, former president of the Austrian Parkinson Society, emphasizes that treatments that work well in the early stages of the disease are critical. “Standard”. A new study now offers such a treatment approach. The focus is again on a drug that is actually used for diabetics – like weight loss injections.

This time the diabetes drug is called lixisenatide. Researchers have now studied its effect The study was published in the “New England Journal of Medicine.”There were 156 people with mild to moderate symptoms of Parkinson's, all of whom were already taking the standard Parkinson's drug levodopa or other drugs. Half of them received lixisenatide for one year and the other a placebo.

Conclusion: After twelve months, participants in the placebo control group showed worsening of their symptoms, as expected. On a scale that rates the severity of Parkinson's disease, his score increased by three points. For those taking medication, scores on this scale did not change. The researchers concluded that lixisenatide could slow the disease and stop the symptoms.

“That would be a huge hit.”

The study couldn't figure out how to explain the diabetes drug's positive effect on Parkinson's disease. However, what is interesting is that lixisenatide is a so-called GLP-1 receptor agonist. These are blood sugar-lowering drugs primarily used to treat type 2 diabetes. Lixisenatide belongs to a large family of similar active substances recently used as a “weight loss injection” (semaglutide) to treat obesity. GLP-1 drugs are known to reduce inflammation – which may have something to do with how they work.

“The results are very interesting,” commented Josef Klassen, first president of the German Society for Parkinson's and Movement Disorders (DPG) and director of the Clinic and Polyclinic of the University Hospital Leipzig, in the new study. “If we can reduce Parkinson's disease with this class of drugs, that would be a huge success.” However, according to the expert, long-term studies including better-tolerated, related active ingredients are still needed. Efficacy and safety need to be proven in larger patients.

Because taking the drugs caused side effects in the test subjects. About half of them suffered from severe nausea, and some had to vomit repeatedly, according to the study. The researchers suspected that these unpleasant side effects were due to overdose. As is usual with diabetes and weight loss drugs, they would have directly given the maximum dose to the sufferers instead of gradually increasing it. As the side effects became unbearable for a third of the study participants, the researchers cut the dose in half.

Exenatide showed positive results

“A lot more research is needed to see if GLP-1 receptor agonists are really the ultimate answer for people with Parkinson's disease, and if they can actually be used for a cure in some cases,” said neurologist Birker. Experts have long believed that this would be a promising approach. Various studies have provided evidence that type 2 diabetes and some neurodegenerative diseases share similar signaling pathways.

A study from London published in 2017 The active ingredient, exenatide, another diabetes drug on the market in Germany since 2007, appears to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease to a small extent. At the time, researchers suspected that exenatide might improve the energy supply to neurons, making them more receptive to insulin, thereby reducing inflammatory responses.

“The questions not explored in the current study are scientifically interesting: can GLP-1 drugs protect against the loss of dopamine-producing neurons and possibly prevent the onset of Parkinson's,” says DPG boss Klassen. These will be very important targets, as the cause of Parkinson's disease cannot yet be treated.

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