A Cancer Drug May Offer Hope for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease

November 25, 2015

A drug approved by the FDA to treat cancer by suppressing tumor growth is causing excitement for doctors who treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients. The drug, nilotinib (Tasigna) is a heavy-hitting chemotherapy drug when used in high doses that cleans cells out of existence. In lower doses, it seems to cause the brain to clear out the build-up of unhealthy proteins that interfere with normal functioning.

Nilotinib forces brain cells to clear out the amyloid protein build-up in the brain. Since AD is 10 times more common than Parkinson’s, this could be a huge break through. Early studies have shown decreases in the protein build-up, but the fact that you can target a protein pathway and make alterations is phenomenal. A larger clinical trial is needed as well as funding to further discover the true implications of the cancer drug.

In another study with Parkinson’s patients, researchers noticed a drop in alpha Synuclein in spinal fluid and levels of dopamine increased. The patients scored higher on measures of movement and cognitive ability. Researchers caution that other drugs have seemed promising at first, but after further study and long term intake, they did not perform as hoped.

 

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By Sheri Chandler

Filed in: News

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