MS Drug May Help in Parkinson's Disease

A treatment for multiple sclerosis may benefit patients with Parkinson's a study found.

A new study provides preclinical evidence that a treatment currently used for multiple sclerosis (MS) may also be used to treat Parkinson’s disease (PD). The study, conducted by Manuj Ahuja of Augusta University, and colleagues, was published in the Journal of Neuroscience on June 8, 2016.

The researchers say, “The current study provides preclinical evidence that an FDA approved drug, dimethylfumarate [DMF] and its metabolite monomethylfumarate [MMF] can block nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurodegeneration in an MPTP [1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-induced] model of PD.” This is an exciting result because PD is incurable with few treatment options. The research suggests that gene transcription using MMF could provide a therapeutic intervention without many side effects.

“Although the cause of PD is unknown, data from sporadic and genetic forms of PD support a role for oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction in disease pathogenesis,” say the researchers. Currently, MS is treated with a nuclear-factor-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) activator in an oral formulation of DMF. The researchers say they compared the effects of DMF and MMF “on Nrf2 signaling and their ability to block” MPTP-induced PD.

Although there were differences in vitro, the researchers say “both DMF and MMF exerted similar neuroprotective effects and blocked MPTP-neurotoxicity in wild-type but not in the Nrf2 null mice.” This was the first time that the therapeutic efficacy of both MMF and DMF had been compared in an MPTP-mouse model of PD.

While there are several options for treating the symptoms of PD, the researchers say, “there are no therapies yet with proven neuroprotective or disease-slowing properties.” They believe their results warrant more studies into the use of capsulated forms of DMF, as well as novel types of MMF drugs in order to develop an effective therapeutic candidate for treating PD.