Tapeworm drug could lead the fight against Parkinson's disease

December 12, 2017, Cardiff University
Immunohistochemistry for alpha-synuclein showing positive staining (brown) of an intraneural Lewy-body in the Substantia nigra in Parkinson's disease. Credit: Wikipedia

Researchers at Cardiff University, in collaboration with the University of Dundee, have identified a drug molecule within a medicine used to treat tapeworm infections which could lead to new treatments for patients with Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's disease is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that, according to the charity, Parkinson's UK, affects one person in every 500. That means an estimated 127,000 people are currently living with Parkinson's disease in the UK alone.

Over the last decade or so, researchers striving to find a cure for this debilitating disease have focused their attention on a protein found in the known as PINK1. It's understood that the malfunction of this protein is one of the leading causes of Parkinson's disease.

Several studies have suggested that discovering a drug which is capable of enhancing the function of PINK1 could be a significant step in halting neurodegeneration and therefore slow down or even treat Parkinson's disease.

With this knowledge in mind, researchers at Cardiff and Dundee Universities have discovered that a drug traditionally used to treat tapeworm infections, named Niclosamide, is also an effective activator of the PINK1 protein.

Furthermore, the research, funded by The Welcome Trust, revealed that Niclosamide and some of its derivatives could enhance PINK1 performance within cells and neurons. This has given the researchers reason to believe that this drug could provide new hope for patients living with Parkinson's disease.

Dr Youcef Mehellou, from Cardiff University's School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, who co-lead the study, said: "This work represents the first report of a clinically used to activate PINK1 and may hold promise in treating Parkinson's disease. We will now take our findings to the next level by evaluating the ability of Niclosamide to treat Parkinson's disease in models. This is an exciting stage of our research and we are positive about the long term impact it could have on patients' lives."

Explore further: Scientists solve 3-D structure of key defense protein against Parkinson's disease

More information: Erica Barini et al. The Anthelmintic Drug Niclosamide and its Analogues Activate the Parkinson's Disease Associated Protein Kinase PINK1, ChemBioChem (2017). DOI: 10.1002/cbic.201700500

Related Stories

Scientists solve 3-D structure of key defense protein against Parkinson's disease

October 5, 2017
Scientists at the University of Dundee have identified the structure of a key enzyme that protects the brain against Parkinson's disease.

Good cells gone bad: Scientists discover PINK-SNO

November 21, 2017
A new study from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is the first to show precisely how a process in nerve cells called the S-nitrosylation (SNO) reaction—which can be caused by aging, pesticides and pollution—may contribute ...

Molecular 'on-off' switch for Parkinson's disease discovered

May 23, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Scientists at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Protein Phosphorylation Unit at the University of Dundee have discovered a new molecular switch that acts to protect the brain from developing Parkinson's ...

Scientists discover a 'switchboard' of molecules that protect against Parkinson's disease

October 27, 2015
A `switchboard' of molecules that play a vital role in protecting the brain against Parkinson's disease has been uncovered by a research team led by the University of Dundee.

Mitochondrial lipids as potential targets in early onset Parkinson's disease

February 10, 2017
A team of researchers led by Patrik Verstreken (VIB–KU Leuven) have identified an underlying mechanism in early onset Parkinson's. Using flies, mice and patient cells, the team focused on cardiolipin, a fat unique to cells' ...

Discovery of genetic 'switch' could help to prevent symptoms of Parkinson's disease

February 17, 2017
A genetic 'switch' has been discovered by MRC researchers at the University of Leicester which could help to prevent or delay the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Recommended for you

Two compounds in coffee may team up to fight Parkinson's

December 10, 2018
Rutgers scientists have found a compound in coffee that may team up with caffeine to fight Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia—two progressive and currently incurable diseases associated with brain degeneration.

New Parkinson's disease drug target revealed through study of fatty acids

December 4, 2018
The human brain is rich in lipids. Investigators studying Parkinson's disease (PD) have become increasingly interested in lipids since both molecular and genetic studies have pointed to the disruption of the balance of the ...

A toxin that travels from stomach to brain may trigger Parkinsonism

December 4, 2018
Combining low doses of a toxic herbicide with sugar-binding proteins called lectins may trigger Parkinsonism—symptoms typical of Parkinson's disease like body tremors and slowing of body motions—after the toxin travels ...

Experimental cancer drug shows promise for Parkinson's

December 3, 2018
The study, funded by Parkinson's UK, suggests that the drug, tasquinimod, which is not yet on the market, works by controlling genes that may cause Parkinson's. This happens when the drug interacts with a protein inside brain ...

Parkinson's therapy creates new brain circuits for motor function, study finds

November 28, 2018
Scientists have uncovered that an emerging gene therapy for Parkinson's disease creates new circuits in the brain associated with improved motor movement. These findings, published today in Science Translational Medicine ...

The puzzle of a mutated gene lurking behind many Parkinson's cases

November 15, 2018
Genetic mutations affecting a single gene play an outsized role in Parkinson's disease. The mutations are generally responsible for the mass die-off of a set of dopamine-secreting, or dopaminergic, nerve cells in the brain ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.