About one million people in the U.S. are living with Parkinson’s disease. Levodopa is the most effective drug available, but the drug can cause side effects, and after several years, the effectiveness of Levodopa can wane, and with higher doses, patients may develop dyskinesia, or involuntary, erratic movements. Now, a new drug, currently in clinical trials, may reduce these unpleasant side effects while lengthening the time patients have relief from their symptoms.
With a solid pool game and a smooth golf swing, you would have never thought 70-year-old Wayne Holt has been living with Parkinson’s disease for 21 years.
“I used to be a racquetball player and I couldn’t keep up with the ball anymore. I decided I needed to find a sport where the ball sits still until I hit it,” Holt explains.
Holt first noticed his Parkinson’s symptoms when he was at lunch with a friend.
“When I lift my drinking glass, my hand really had a tremor to it,” Holt said.
“Parkinsonian tremors are due to too much brake and not enough gas. When people try to do personal movement, they get shaking because the brake is being applied as they’re trying to apply the gas,” explained Craig Lindsley, the Director at Warren Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery.
Levodopa has been the gold standard when it comes to treating Parkinson’s symptoms. But after several years, efficacy can fade and long-term use may lead to side effects, such as dyskinesia, hallucination, delusions, and sleep problems. But researchers are testing a new drug called AP-472.
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“This is really different because it’s not dopamine replacement therapy. We’re targeting this overactive synapse and bringing that gas and brake back into balance,” Lindsley said.
The drug is designed to be given along with Levodopa to increase its effectiveness and limit negative side effects. For Holt, who suffers from dyskinesia, a drug like this can be a game-changer.
“The more we can do, the more likely we are to cure this thing,” Holt said.
AP-472 is an oral daily drug. The phase one trial will give the drug to healthy young, middle-aged, and elderly adults to evaluate its safety. Then, it will move to phase 1B and phase 2 where it will be given to Parkinson’s patients.
Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer, Editor.