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Dementia Drug Could Help Those With Parkinson’s


A new study, using an existing drug for dementia, has shown that it may be effective against Parkinson’s disease.


Parkinson’s disease is a type of neurodegenerative disease that affects the muscles. The disease is progressive, and it can take several years for the disease to become apparent. In the U.S. alone, up to one million people may have the condition. The disease tends to affect men more than women. Due to the high number of cases, considerable investment goes into finding better treatment or even a cure.


Current medication can help to alleviate the symptoms; however there is no cure. The new research has shown that a drug designed to help with dementia can also help further with the symptoms of Parkinson’s. One of the problems associated with the neurological condition is with those affected losing balance and falling over. It is here that the drug shows marked success.


The investigation has been into a drug called rivastigmine. Commenting on this, lead researcher Dr. Emily Henderson said: “With the degeneration of dopamine producing nerve cells, people with Parkinson’s often have issues with unsteadiness when walking. As part of the condition, they also have lower levels of acetylcholine, a chemical which helps us to concentrate – making it extremely difficult to pay attention to walking. We already know that rivastigmine works to treat dementia by preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine, however our study shows for the first time that it can also improve regularity of walking, speed, and balance. This is a real breakthrough in reducing the risk of falls for people with Parkinson’s.”


The research is published in the journal The Lancet Neurology, in a paper titled “Rivastigmine for gait stability in patients with Parkinson’s disease (ReSPonD): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial.”

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.