Class of type 2 diabetes drugs could treat Parkinsons disease

Jack Woodfield
Wed, 22 Jul 2015
Class of type 2 diabetes drugs could treat Parkinsons disease
A class of widely-used diabetes drugs could be used to protect against Parkinsons disease, according to a new study.

A team by Dr. Ruth Brauer, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, concluded that people with diabetes who took glitazone pills - which lowers blood glucose levels - were less likely to develop Parkinson's.

Glitazone drugs include rosiglitazone (marketed as Avandia) and pioglitazone (marketed as Actos), which are used to treat type 2 diabetes.

44,600 British diabetes patients who had been prescribed glitazone drugs were compared to 120,000 patients who took other anti-diabetic treatment.

Their medical records were tracked from 1999 to 2013, with participants matched up to ensure that factors such as age and stage of treatment were similar.

Patients who used glitazone pills were 28 per cent less likely to develop Parkinson's than those who did not take the drugs. This association remained even after other known predictors of Parkinson's were accounted for, such as head injury and smoking.

This lower risk was only maintained through continued use of glitazones, though. There was no long-lasting effect if patients switched to other drugs, and the benefits seemed to wear off once a patient stopped taking glitazones.

Dr. Ian Douglas, lead researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: "Our findings provide unique evidence that we hope will drive further investigation into potential drug treatments for Parkinson's disease."

Dr. Arthur Roach, Director of Research and Development at the charity Parkinson's UK, added: "There are currently no drugs which can prevent people developing Parkinson's. Hopefully the results of this study will spark further research into developing new drugs that work in a similar way to glitazone drugs, and have the ability to reduce someone's chance of developing Parkinson's."
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