Monday, June 11, 2007

Blood Pressure Drug Offers Hope for Parkinson's Treatment

Tests on mice at Northwestern University in Chicago showed isradipine, a drug commonly used to treat high blood pressure, can rejuvenate the brain neurons which are dying in Parkinson's patients.

Isradipine is a calcium-blocker which is usually used to tackle high blood pressure, angina and stroke.

But researchers at Northwestern University found mice, who had been engineered to develop a progressive Parkinson's-type disease, did not become ill when their condition was treated with the drug.

Their dopamine neurons - cells which start to die in Parkinson's patients - appeared to revert back to their original, youthful form. Dopamine is a critical substance which affects the control of movement. When it is lacking, that movement becomes increasingly difficult and unco-ordinated.

While these results are still very preliminary, and nothing has been tested in humans yet, isradipine is a medication that is currently on the market and readily available, with safety studies having already been completed. That could allow human testing to proceed at a rapid pace, which is good news for Parkinson's patients and their friends and families.

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