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

Parkinson's gene initiates disease outside of the brain

March 21, 2018
Until very recently, Parkinson's had been thought a disease that starts in the brain, destroying motion centers and resulting in the tremors and loss of movement. New research published this week in the journal Brain, shows ...

Faulty cellular membrane 'mix' linked to Parkinson's disease

March 15, 2018
Working with lab-grown human brain cells, Johns Hopkins researchers report they have uncovered a much sought-after connection between one of the most common genetic mutations in Parkinson's disease and the formation of fatty ...

Researchers uncover culprit in Parkinson's brain cell die-off

March 5, 2018
An estimated 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson's disease—an incurable neurodegenerative disorder that leads to an increasing loss of motor control.

Study uncovers cause of cell death in Parkinson's disease

February 26, 2018
A University of Guelph researcher has discovered one of the factors behind nerve cell death in Parkinson's disease, unlocking the potential for treatment to slow the progression of this fatal neurodegenerative disorder.

Protein levels in spinal fluid correlate to posture and gait difficulty in Parkinson's

February 21, 2018
Levels of a protein found in the brain called alpha-synuclein (α-syn) are significantly lower than normal in cerebrospinal fluid collected in Parkinson's disease patients suffering from postural instability and gait difficulty, ...

Calcium may play a role in the development of Parkinson's disease

February 19, 2018
Researchers have found that excess levels of calcium in brain cells may lead to the formation of toxic clusters that are the hallmark of Parkinson's disease.


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.