Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by degeneration of central nervous system and affects almost 10 million people across the world. Even though India has the lowest incidence overall-70 in 100,000, the highest incidence of PD is found in the Parsi community in Mumbai where it affects almost 328 people out of 100,000. Incidence of PD increases with age and men are 1.5 times more likely to have Parkinson’s as compared to women.
In view of these numbers, recent research has shed light on a potential new drug for Parkinson’s disease. Researchers at the Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), in collaboration with scientists from the University of York found that UDCA (ursodeoxycholic acid) a drug that has been in use for liver disease has the potential to slow down Parkinson’s disease.
Dr Heather Mortiboys, senior researcher at the University of Sheffield explained that the drug UDCA improved the mitochondrial function as shown by the increase of oxygen consumption and cellular energy levels in the tissue of LRRK2 carriers with PD. LRRK2 gene mutation is the most common cause for PD.
Oliver Bandmann, Professor of Movement Disorders Neurology at the University of Sheffield and Honorary Consultant Neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, further added that the drug may benefit other neurodegenerative diseases as well. Dr.Arthur, Director of Research and Development at Parkinson’s UK who has also partly funded the study talked about the need for new treatments that can slow or stop PD and the hope this drug brings in cutting costs and time once it fast tracks to clinical trials. This study was published in the journal Neurology and funding was also received from the Wellcome Trust and the Norwegian Parkinson Foundation.
The combined costs (direct + indirect) of Parkinson’s is estimated to be around $25 billion in United States itself. And this drug can potentially cut costs tremendously once it is approved for use in Parkinson’s disease.