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Diabetes drug slows experimental Parkinson’s disease progression, human trials to begin next year

A new investigational drug, MSDC-0160, originally developed for type 2 diabetes is being readied for human clinical trials in search of the world’s first treatment to impede the progression of Parkinson’s disease following publication of research findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“Until now, Parkinson’s treatments have focused on symptom management. If successful in human trials, MSDC-0160 would be the world’s first therapy to treat the underlying disease and slow its progression — potentially improving quality of life and preventing the occurrence of falls and cognitive decline. It may also reduce or delay the need for medications that can have debilitating side effects”, says Professor Patrik Brundin.

MSDC-0160 was developed by Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Metabolic Solutions Development Company (MSDC) to treat type 2 diabetes. In 2012, Brundin recognized it as an exciting drug candidate because of its mode of action, proven safety in people, local availability and the start-up company’s interest in collaborating on drug repurposing initiatives.

The novelty of MSDC-0160 stems from a recently revived revelation that Parkinson’s may originate, at least partially, in the body’s energy metabolism. The new drug appears to regulate mitochondrial function in brain cells and restore the cells’ ability to convert basic nutrients into energy. Consequently, the cells’ ability to handle potentially harmful proteins is normalized, which leads to reduced inflammation and less nerve cell death.

Journal Reference:

Anamitra Ghosh et al. Mitochondrial pyruvate carrier regulates autophagy, inflammation, and neurodegeneration in experimental models of Parkinson’s disease. Science Translational Medicine, December 2016 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aag2210

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