Study: Nicotine may ease Parkinson’s symptoms

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.In the study, researchers gave nicotine-laced orange Gatorade to monkeys previously treated with a drug that mimics the symptoms of Parkinson’s. They then gave the monkeys levodopa – L-dopa – a leading drug used to reduce the tremors and speech problems that are a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease. The researchers found that the nicotine-treated monkeys had up to 50percent fewer episodes of dyskinesia, compared with monkeys that had not received nicotine before being given L-dopa. When the researchers gave the monkeys nicotine after treating them with levodopa, the monkeys experienced up to 35percent fewer dyskinesia. In addition, the nicotine did not seem to worsen the disease itself. The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Annals of Neurology. “This is exciting; a good leap forward,” said Jonathan Brotchie, a Parkinson’s disease researcher with the Toronto Western Research Institute. “If you could see that sort of effect in patients with Parkinson’s disease, it has the potential to increase the quality of their lives quite significantly.” However, Brotchie and other Parkinson’s researchers not involved in the study cautioned against making too much of results, even promising ones, in monkeys. And, Brotchie said, because nicotine is potentially toxic in large doses and can create other health problems, researchers may have to develop a different drug that mimics nicotine. “There is a lot that needs to be done to take this finding and turn it into a useful treatment,” Brotchie said. About 1.5million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s disease, with an estimated 60,000 new cases diagnosed each year. While the condition typically develops after age 65, about 15percent of cases occur in people under 50. The progressive disease occurs when nerve cells known as neurons in a certain part of the brain die or become impaired. These cells normally produce the chemical dopamine, which allows the body’s muscles to move smoothly. When enough of those cells are damaged, the distinctive hand tremors, shuffling gait, rigidity and impaired speech may occur.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SAN JOSE – One of the more difficult challenges faced by sufferers of Parkinson’s is not the disease itself, but rather the jerky, uncontrollable movements caused by the most common treatment for this devastating neurological disorder. Now, scientists at the Parkinson’s Institute may have found a surprising treatment to reduce those movements: nicotine. In a study released Wednesday, the scientists report that monkeys treated with nicotine had significantly fewer episodes of the jerky movements, known as dyskinesia, compared with monkeys that did not receive nicotine. The study appears to be the first to examine nicotine as a treatment for dyskinesia, but it builds on a larger body of research that shows some promise for nicotine’s ability to ease Parkinson’s symptoms and reduce the disease’s progression. last_img read more