The widely used diabetes drug Byetta may benefit people suffering from Parkinsons Disease, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
The study found that the type 2 diabetes medication could be used to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s, a degenerative neurological disorder that affects around n one in every 500 people in the UK.
Dr. Thomas Foltynie and colleagues from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London followed two groups of patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s for 12 months. One group of 20 patients received injections of Byetta (Exenatide), while the other group of 24 patients served as controls.
After a year of treatment, the patients receiving Exenatide showed statistically significant improvements in cognitive ability and motor skills, while symptoms of the disease worsened among control patients.
The results showed that the Exenatide treatment group experienced a mean improvement of 2.7 points on the MDS-UPDRS scale, which is used to measure the progression of Parkinson’s, while the control group declined 2.2% on the scale.
Exenatide was generally well-tolerated, the researchers noted. Two patients stopped their course of treatment early, but both completed follow-ups and were included in the analysis.
Dr. Foltynie said the findings suggest that Exenatide may improve motor function in Parkinson’s Disease patients and provide a strong rationale for conducting a larger, blinded study to determine the effectiveness of Exenatide in treating Parkinson’s Disease.
Claire Bale, Research Communications Manager at charity group Parkinson’s UK, said that despite these encouraging results, “it is simply too soon to tell whether this drug is a blind alley or a breakthrough for people with Parkinson’s.
“The research was conducted in a very small number of people and, crucially, without a placebo group – making it difficult to draw too many firm conclusions at this stage,” she added.

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