By TUCKER JONES (COL ‘17)
October 17-21, 2015 – Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) researchers presented their breakthrough findings on Parkinson’s disease treatment at a neuroscience conference in Chicago, IL. GUMC professors Charbel Moussa and Fernando Pagan partnered to conduct a clinical study focused on treating Parkinson’s
and Lewy body dementia patients with an already FDA approved drug for leukemia called Nilotinib. Nilotinib was administered to patients in much smaller doses than are usually used to treat the cancer. Researchers found that this medication crossed the blood brain barrier more efficiently than conventional dopamine drugs. Study
Dr. Charbel Moussa |Photo Courtesy of Georgetown University Medical Center
subjects experienced higher levels of dopamine production while taking nilotinib. Dopamine levels increased so significantly that many subjects were able to lower or stop doses of other dopamine regulating treatments.
Though only a small clinical trial, Moussa’s and Pagan’s project efforts have already produced big results. Nilotinib treatment in the context of Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia has shown great potential in improving the cognition, motor skills, and non-motor function of affected patients. One participant of the clinical trial reported that he was able to gain much of his independence back around the house, allowing him to regain control of tasks he had previously lost. Researchers also reported that one subject started the treatment in a wheelchair and is now able to walk again. Other remarkable results include three subjects that were unable to speak prior to treatment and are now able to engage in conversations. The primary goal of this first stage of the clinical trial was safety. Now that these GUMC researchers have shown the exciting promise of
using nilotinib to treat Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia, they are planning on expanding the study to larger trials, and other similar diseases.