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Repurposing Tapeworm Drug to Combat Parkinson Disease

December 18, 2017

In October 2017, researchers at the University of Dundee identified the structure of a key enzyme, PINK1, that protects the brain against Parkinson disease (PD). In this study, authors found that patients who have PINK1 mutations do not receive its protective effects for stress, leading to the “degeneration of cells controlling movement” that accounts for PD symptoms (University of Dundee news. October 5, 2017).

In a new article published online in iChemBioChem, these researchers demonstrate how the anthelmintic drug niclosamide and its analogues are able to activate the PINK1 enzyme in cells. Niclosamide is normally used to treat tapeworm infections, but study authors think it may bring us closer to halting PD-related neurodegeneration.

Authors Erica Barini, and colleagues, say that the drug is able to reverse the impairment of the mitochondrial membrane potential (published online December 10, 2017. doi:10.1002/cbic.201700500).

“Using these compounds, we demonstrate for the first time that the PINK1 pathway is active and detectable in primary neurons. Our findings suggest that niclosamide and its analogues are robust compounds to study the PINK1 pathway and may hold promise as a therapeutic strategy in Parkinson's and related disorders.”

—Amanda Del Signore

For more articles like this, visit the Parkinson Disease Resource Center

For more Annals of Long-Term Care articles, visit the homepage

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