Fears of Side Effects Can Lead to Treatment Delays in Parkinson’s Disease

According to a story from Parkinson’s News Today, both doctors and patients may delay treatment of Parkinson’s disease because of concerns about side effects. The most common treatment for the illness, called levodopa, can cause a range of side effects that at times can be severe. However, most research confirms that starting therapy with levodopa in the early stages of the disease is still safe. This trend of delayed treatment highlights the need for safer and more effective therapies that can decisively impact the progression of Parkinson’s 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.

Controlling Side Effects

There are some alternative treatments for Parkinson’s disease that have a reduced risk of causing serious side effects, such as motor complications. While these can be useful for patients that are hesitant about levodopa, there still isn’t enough scientific evidence to suggest that delaying treatment with the drug is universally beneficial for patients. There are some alternative formulations of levodopa in development that have the potential to reduce the impact of side effects, but disease modifying therapies are really what is needed the most.

Developments in Parkinson’s Treatment

There are several of such therapies that are in development. Such drugs include inosine and isradipine, which are both currently being tested in Phase 3 trials. Another promising approach being researched are antibody drugs that help bring down concentrations of alpha-synuclein. The protein doesn’t work the way it should in Parkinson’s disease patients and accumulates in the brain, leading to the death of neurons. A Phase 2 trial of such an antibody, called prasinezumab, has shown promise.


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