Are Parkinson's Disease and Type 2 Diabetes Linked?
Two seemingly unrelated conditions may have more in common than researchers previously believed. A new study published in the August 2017 issue of The Lancet found that a common diabetes drug could affect the progression of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that slowly limits a person's ability to control his or her movements, affects about 1 million people in the United States, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. The study authors of the Lancet article set out to find alternative treatments that could slow down disease advancement.
“All of the current treatments we have for Parkinson’s disease help manage the symptoms but don’t affect the progressive nature of the underlying disease,” explains one of the study's coauthors, Dilan Athauda, a bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery, a clinical researcher at the University College London, and a member of the Royal College of Physicians.
The research team set out to examine exenatide, an injection that treats type 2 diabetes by activating a gene that helps your body release insulin. It also slows down how fast your stomach empties after eating, which helps steady blood sugar. Animal studies suggest that this drug may also protect brain cells by activating these same receptors, boosting learning and memory, the researchers note.
The current study was a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, which has long been considered the gold standard in medical research. Half of human study subjects received placebo injections, while the other half got exenatide injections. Continue reading