Study Finds New Drug Could Revolutionize Parkinson’s Treatment
Can NLX-112 Change How Parkinson’s Is Treated?
More than 10 million people live with Parkinson’s Disease around the world, with few options in treatment to slow down the disorder’s aggressive nature while being available for every patient. The disorder is as debilitating to the patient as it is heartbreaking for loved ones to experience each stage as it comes along. One of the most common side effects experienced by patients living with PD is involuntary movement throughout the body, a side effect brought on by long-term, regular intake of levodopa-based medications. These involuntary movements, a condition referred to as Dyskinesia, can leave patients unable to perform everyday tasks we take for granted, and often requires assistance in care. However, thanks to the persistent research of US biotech company Neurolixis, coupled with funding provided by Parkinson’s UK, researchers appear to have yielded positive results from the experimental drug, NLX-112, observed to successfully reduce Dyskinesia while, more importantly, not interfering with the effectiveness of levodopa. Director of Research at Parkinson’s UK, Dr. Arthur Roach, claims:
“This promising research on NLX-112 offers hope that we can find a treatment that can tackle dyskinesia, which can make everyday tasks, such as eating, writing and walking, extremely difficult. People with Parkinson’s tell us it is one of the most critical issues that impacts quality of life so we’re delighted that this project is progressing so positively.”
The Five Stages of Parkinson’s
Mayfield Medical Group defines Parkinson’s Disease (PD) as “a progressive disorder that affects nerve cells in the brain responsible for body movement”. Deep in the recesses of the midbrain, within the substantia nigra pars compacta region, there exist special nerve cells called dopaminergic neurons. Dopaminergic neurons are every mammals’ primary source of dopamine, a feel good neurotransmitter that carries information between neurons, while regulating one’s movement and emotion. Over time, these dopamine-producing neurons die off from age and oxidative stress, or an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Over time, the loss of dopaminergic neurons leads to a reduction of dopamine, in turn creating abnormalities in brain function- often leading to symptoms of Parkinson’s.
There are five stages of Parkinson’s Disease. Baring in mind, not every patient will experience every stage, nor will every patient experience the same symptoms or level of severity, there are typical patterns as to how the disease progresses as time moves on and the body’s dopamine levels decrease. In stage one, mild tremors, involuntary posture changes, facial expressions and movement symptoms begin to arise, but not to the extent that it could affect one’s daily activity, and often only affects one side of the body. In stage two, tremors and movement become more difficult, and begins to affect both sides of the body. Patients can still live autonomously at stage two, though daily activities take a longer amount of time and become more strenuous. At stage three, or mid-stage, movement is affected to the point that loss of balance and falling is more common. A person could still live independently at mid-stage, though simple activities like eating and getting dressed become much harder to manage. By stage four, movement becomes so limited, patients cannot live by themselves at this point. Standing is still possible without someone’s help, but assistive tools such as walkers are necessary. Finally, with stage five Parkinson’s disease, legs have stiffened to the point of requiring a wheelchair, or staying bed-ridden- by this stage, around-the-clock care is required for the safety and well being of the patient.
What causes dyskinesia?
Dyskinesia, or Tardive Dyskinesia (TD), is a fluid-like, involuntary movement of different parts of the body. TD is most often a byproduct of long term use of both levodopa-based medications and antipsychotics, which are some of the front-line methods of combating the degenerative symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 40-50% of patients will struggle with Dyskinesia after the first five years of regular levodopa based medicine intake, and around 80% of patients with Parkinson’s will struggle with Dyskinesia after ten years of this form of treatment. Some find ways for themselves to fight back against symptoms of parkinson’s disease, but it can be a long
NLX-112 found to reduce Dyskinesia Symptoms
NLX-112, a pain treatment option for those with diabetes, has been found to reduce symptoms of dyskinesia both on its own along with being coupled with levodopa based medication, which could be a game changer in how medical experts frame treatment. Neurolixis co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Adrian Newman-Tancredi, PhD, had this to say about the groundbreaking work:
“We are excited that NLX-112 has shown such positive results in reducing dyskinesia in marmosets. If the striking preclinical data are reproduced in clinical trials, NLX-112 could significantly alleviate the troubling dyskinesia that prevent many Parkinson’s patients from performing routine daily tasks, thereby improving their quality of life.” Tancredo also stated, “We are currently making plans and seeking funding to take NLX-112 into clinical trials and hope to be able to initiate these before the end of 2020. These findings are just one more way that modern science is helping patients find motivation to keep living their life and enjoy it too.
Derek Dunston has worked in children’s entertainment for several years, through balloon art, magic, music, and educational games. He is working towards his B.A.S. in Secondary Mathematics grades 6-12 and has served Broward County Public Schools as a substitute teacher for three years. He plans to dedicate his life to child honoring and promoting inclusive/multicultural practices to benefit future communities in the fields of education and children’s entertainment.