Could this Liver Drug Slow Down Parkinson’s Disease?

Aug 16, 2015

Adam Rhoades/Flickr

By Amy Pullan-Sheffield

A drug used for decades to treat liver disease appears to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s disease, according to tests in fruit flies.

Researchers say the findings support the fast-tracking of the drug, ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), for a clinical trial in Parkinson’s patients.

A mutation in the LRRK2 gene is the single most common inherited cause of Parkinson’s disease. However, the precise mechanism that leads to Parkinson’s is still unclear.

For the study, published in the journal Neurology, researchers demonstrated the beneficial effects of the drug in vivo using the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster). In fruit flies, the mitochondrial defects caused by the LRRK2 mutation to dopaminergic neurons can be monitored through the progressive loss of visual function. Flies carrying the mutation maintained their visual response when fed with UDCA.

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