Two drugs delivered via the nose have shown promise for improving symptoms of Parkinson's disease in mice. The corresponding study was published in Nature Communications by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL.
Parkinson's disease affects around 6.1 million people worldwide and is the most common movement disorder. One of the characteristic markers of the disease is the presence of Lewy bodies, abnormal protein deposits involving alpha-synuclein proteins that develop in nerve cells in various regions of the brain.
Until now, the underlying mechanisms controlling the spread of alpha-synuclein and its link to Parkinson's disease have been unknown. Nevertheless, the buildup of these proteins is also associated with Lewy body dementia and a rare neurological disorder known as multiple system atrophy (MSA).
"At present, there is also no effective treatment for dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy," said Kalipada Pahan, lead author of the study. "Understanding how these diseases work is important to developing effective drugs that inhibit alpha-synuclein pathology, protect the brain, and stop the progression of Lewy body diseases."
For the study, the researchers developed and tested peptides known as TLR2-interacting domain of MYd88 (TIDM) and NEMO-binding domain (NBD) on mouse models of Parkinson's disease. In doing so, they found that the drugs could reduce inflammation in the brain, halt the spread of alpha-synuclein and protect dopaminergic neurons. The drugs also improved the gait, balance, and other motor functions of the mice.
The researchers conclude that their nasal drugs are able to reduce the spread of alpha-synuclein and that they demonstrate the pathways by which the proteins spread and are linked to Parkinson's disease.
The researchers now look forward to replicating their study on patients. If the results translate over to humans too, they say that that the treatment would be a 'remarkable advance in the treatment of devastating neurological disorders'.