According to a story from Parkinson’s News Today, a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine highlights the key weakness of Levodopa, one of the most common treatments for Parkinson’s disease. The study found that the drug was effective in managing the movement problems that appear with Parkinson’s, but had no effect in slowing disease progression among patients with early disease.
About Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a type of long term, progressive, degenerative illness that affects the central nervous system. Symptoms tend to develop over a period of years and primarily affect the movement ability and mental state of the patient. The cause of Parkinson’s disease remains a mystery, although there are a number of risk factors that have been identified. These factors include head injuries, pesticide exposure, and certain genetic variants and mutations. About 15 percent of patients have a close relative with the disease, suggesting some genetic connection. Symptoms include slowed movements, poor coordination, trouble walking, shaking, stiffness, abnormal posture, depression, anxiety, inhibited thinking, hallucinations, and dementia. Treatment may involve a number of medications, rehabilitation, and surgical operations. Survival rate varies, but most patients survive around a decade after getting diagnosed. To learn more about Parkinson’s disease, click here.
To test whether Levodopa had an impact on disease progression, scientists designed a delayed start trial, in which one group of recently diagnosed Parkinson’s disease patients received Levodopa and carbidopa for 80 weeks and another group received a placebo for the first 40 weeks and then the combination treatment for the remaining 40.
The results indicate that there was no significant difference between the two groups in regards to the progression of their symptoms. So while the group that was treated during the entire duration of the study may have had better control of their symptoms, starting treatment earlier had no impact, either good or bad, on how their disease progressed.
These results highlight the need for disease-modifying treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Further research with larger doses, different start times, or longer periods of administration may still be conducted in the future, but this trial sows serious doubts about the ability of Levodopa to alter the progression of Parkinson’s.
You can check out the original study here.