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Scientists Test Peptide Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease in Monkeys

Once patients are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, there is no drug available to halt its progression. Scientists have shown that a peptide is capable of halting the progression of Parkinson’s disease in monkeys.

CHICAGO, IL, June 15, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ — Peptide therapy may prevent Parkinson’s disease from progressing further. Scientists at the Rush University Medical Center (Chicago) have used a peptide in monkeys with Parkinson’s disease and found that the peptide successfully reverses locomotor, biochemical, cellular, and anatomical changes caused by the disease. Results of the study were published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, June 2012.

“The monkey model of PD is considered as the best available model for human PD as humans and monkeys apparently share about 93% of their genes” said Kalipada Pahan, PhD, Professor of Neurological sciences, Biochemistry and Pharmacology at the Rush University Medical Center.

“Understanding how the disease works is important to developing effective drugs that protect the brain and stop the progression of PD,” Dr. Pahan said. The authors have shown that one protein called NF-kB is increased in the midbrain of parkinsonian monkeys.

In a preclinical setting, rhesus monkeys with established PD symptoms received the peptide via intramuscular injection. “Interestingly, this peptide enters into the brain and blocks NF-kB and other associated toxic molecules, protects neurons, normalizes neurotransmitter, and improves motor functions in monkeys with PD,” Dr. Pahan said.

Available PD treatment (e.g. levodopa) is often associated with a number of side effects and unsatisfactory outcomes. “We did not observe any drug related side effects (e.g. hair loss, untoward infection, hyperkinesias, psychological disturbance, vomiting, diarrhea etc) after peptide treatment,” Dr. Pahan said.

This research was supported by grants from Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and National Institutes of Health. “Now we need to translate this finding to the clinic and test this peptide in patients with PD. If these results can be replicated in PD patients, it would be a remarkable advance in the treatment of this devastating movement disease,” Dr. Pahan said.

Parkinson’s is a slowly progressive disease that affects a small area within the mid-brain known as the substantia nigra. Gradual degeneration of these cells causes a reduction in a vital chemical neurotransmitter, dopamine. The decrease in dopamine is responsible for the development of PD.

Parkinson’s disease affects about 1.2 million patients in the United States and Canada. Although 15 percent of patients are diagnosed before age 50, it is generally considered a disease that targets older adults, affecting one of every 100 persons over the age of 60.

Website: http://www.pahanlab.com

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