An experimental drug has shown promise in treating debilitating movement problems in people with Parkinson’s disease, according to an animal study, carried out by the US biotech company Neurolixis.
The study analysed the effect of the drug NLX-112 on dyskinesia, a common side effect associated with Parkinson’s seen in people who have been taking levodopa-based medications for several years. It causes involuntary movements that can affect various parts of the body, making everyday tasks impossible, the researchers said.
- The main medication available to manage dyskinesia is amantadine, which can have side effects, and does not work for everyone.
- Up to 50 per cent of all people with Parkinson’s will experience dyskinesia after just five years of taking levodopa, and around 80 per cent will experience it after ten years of taking the medication.
- NLX-112 works by targeting serotonin cells inside the brain which are believed to contribute to the development of dyskinesia, by releasing dopamine in an erratic manner.
- It aims to reduce dyskinesia by decreasing the amount of dopamine the cells release.
NLX-112 was tested in marmoset monkeys with Parkinson’s-like symptoms. The marmosets had developed the side effect of dyskinesia in response to levodopa treatment in a similar way to many people with Parkinson’s. The study looked at the effect of NLX-112 both on its own and in combination with levodopa, to understand how it impacted both dyskinesia and Parkinson’s symptoms. The results showed that NLX-112 successfully reduced dyskinesia and crucially, did not significantly reduce the effectiveness of levodopa, which many other similar drugs do. When NLX-112 was used on its own, it again improved movement problems.
These promising results suggest that NLX-112 has potential as a future treatment for not only reducing dyskinesia, but also for improving the movement symptoms of Parkinson’s.