A new study in Japan has established that the epilepsy drug Zonegran helps Parkinson’s disease patients. Three groups of the 279 participants were given 25 mg, 50 mg or 100 mg of Zonegran every day while the fourth group received a placebo for 12 weeks. The group on the daily dose of 50 mg benefited the most. When the effects of the drug were measured using the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale, it was found that the score of these patients improved by nearly 40 percent. However, drowsiness, weight loss and constipation were a few side effects observed.
Meanwhile, a recent American study by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has connected low levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol to Parkinson’s disease. The study involved 124 patients suffering from the disease and 112 participants who were spouses of other patients. The researchers examined fasting cholesterol profiles, smoking habits, age, gender and usage of cholesterol-lowering drugs of all the participants. They found that the occurrence of the disease increased 3.5-fold in those participants who had low levels of LDL when compared to participants with higher LDL levels.
Another American study from the San Francisco VA Medical Center has found one probable cause for the death of dopamine neurons in Parkinson’s disease. The research was carried out on mice genetically engineered to not have the gene responsible for HIPK2, a protein that controls how genes express themselves. The researchers observed that not having HIPK2 leads to TGFbeta3 being absent. Since TGFbeta3 is vital for brain and nerve cells to survive, its absence causes the death of dopamine neurons and the resultant damage to motor skills associated with Parkinson’s. The findings have opened up new possibilities for therapies.
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