Mar 17, 2017 01:39 AM EDT
Scientists are studying the potentials of a drug called Nilotinib in treating both brain diseases Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Nilotinib is an approved drug that is being used to treat leukemia. When tried against diseases associated with the brain, medical experts found out that the drug can revitalize brain cells to expel faulty components.
Currently, there is no known drug or treatment that can slow down the effect of either Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. Nilotinib stirs excitement among the health community after Georgetown University Medical Center discovered that small doses have positive results. Even a related form of dementia reacted well with the drug.
Georgetown medical director for neurotherapeutics Fernando Pagan said that they received queries from people suffering from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. These calls continue today even if their Nilotinib test was done in late 2015, NPR reported. Especially so after several of 12 initial subjects manifested an improved condition.
Dr. Pagan said that a mixed group of patients with either Parkinson's or Alzheimer's went through a six-month trial. Surprisingly, positive results, including revived ability to feed autonomously, walking without support, and the return of speech for nonverbal patients were recorded. Pagan added that he has been studying Parkinson's for the past 25 years and Nilotinib is the biggest breakthrough that he knows so far.
Georgetown plans to conduct a series of larger and more rigid tests to verify the potency of Nilotinib against Parkinson's and Alzheimer's after few critics point some flaws in the initial findings. Having a relatively small group of patients/test subjects is stirring some doubts. Also, there is an apparent lack of placebo control. This hampered the foolproof assessment of Nilotinib's efficacy, according to Dr. J. Paul Taylor of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.
At any rate, experts and patients alike are open to opportunities that Nilotinib might give. While there are risks in taking powerful leukemia drug to treat what it is not intended to, Dr. Pagan's team gave an encouragement to their initial success.