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Leukemia Drug Helps Parkinson’s Dementia Symptoms

Home Care San Diego Companionship Seniors

This article discuses how a Leukemia drug helps Parkinson’s Dementia symptoms. Researchers are constantly evaluating potential new treatments for Parkinson’s disease dementia.  They may have stumbled upon a new drug treatment that is already approved for treating leukemia.  The new drug appears to dramatically reduce the symptoms of both Parkinson’s disease dementia and Lewy body dementia.  It is an exciting discovery that may help millions of Parkinson’s sufferers around the world!

Scientists who made the discovery gave doses of the drug nilotinib to 12 patients with Parkinson’s disease.  They found that both movement and mental function improved in 11 of those patients.  The other patient didn’t finish the trial.  The research was recently presented at a Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago.

For many of the patients, the improvement was dramatic which has made researchers very excited.  One patient was able to stop using a walker while another regained the ability to feed herself.  Other patients with severe cognitive decline began to speak again.

Dr. Fernando Pagan, director of the Movement Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center says of the findings: “After 25 years in Parkinson’s disease research, this is the most excited I’ve ever been,”

The next step is to have larger controlled studies with a placebo group to verify these incredible findings.  If the next trial shows the same results, it will be an incredible breakthrough in Parkinson’s disease research.  The drug may also be effective for treating other forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease.

Real and dramatic improvement

74-year-old Alan Hoffman was one of the subjects involved in the study.  He was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1997 when he began to have trouble moving is arms.  Dementia appeared 20-years later, in 2007.

It dramatically impacted his ability to read books and express himself.  He found it increasingly difficult to hold a conversation with someone or to perform simple household chores.

After taking nilotinib he became more active again — performing chores around the house, reading books and communicating more easily.  Researchers found that his cognitive tests began to gradually improve.

Dr. Charbel Moussa, an assistant professor of neurology at Georgetown University first came up with the idea of testing the drug.  Dr. Moussa had previously studied the effects of Lewy bodies on the brain — microscopic accumulations of a protein called alpha-synuclein.  Lewy bodies gradually build up in the brain of Parkinson’s patients, causing brain cells to die and interfering with brain function.

Moussa had read about the nilotinib’s ability to remove unwanted proteins from the body.  It is used to remove cancer cells in patients with leukemia.  He tested the drug on brain cells and realized that instead of killing them, it made them healthier by removing these unwanted proteins.

The next stage was to test the drug in animal trials.  They gave nilotinib to mice who had been paralyzed by Parkinson’s disease.  The mice regained almost all of their movement!  By this point, researchers had realized the amazing potential of the drug.

This first human trial was designed to test if nilotinib was safe and effective in human subjects.  They realized that even small doses of the drug were effective at treating Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

After taking the drug, the toxic proteins that form Lewy bodies were reduced in the blood and spinal fluid of patients.  The customary rigidity and tremors of Parkinson’s disease were also reduced after taking the drug.

Another substantial benefit of taking the drug was that patients were able to reduce the dosage of other Parkinson’s drugs they were taking.  By reducing the level of those drugs, patients could also reduce the number of drug side effects they experienced.

The downside of the using nilotinib is that it is very expensive — costing thousands of dollars a month.  However, if it is proven to be effective in subsequent studies, the company that sells the drug may be able to produce it in larger quantities and reduce the cost.

The research team is also planning to trial the drug on patients with Alzheimer’s disease — the most common form of dementia in the world.  If the upcoming trials are successful, it could be an incredible breakthrough for treating these common neurodegenerative diseases.

Help For People Coping with Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

People who are suffering from Parkinson’s disease dementia can benefit from having some help around the home.  Home care services aim to provide that help by having a trained professional visit the client in their home.  They can perform a variety of tasks for the client including:

Providing transportation

Home care staff can help a client get to doctor’s appointments and other social events by providing transportation.  Maintaining an active social life is particularly important for patients with dementia as it helps to delay cognitive decline.

Preparing meals

It is important for people with Parkinson’s disease dementia to maintain a balanced healthy diet.  Delicious and nutritious meals can be prepared in the home by home care staff.

Cleaning the home

In-home Caregivers can vacuum carpets, mop the floor, clean windows, wash dishes, wash and dry laundry and much more.

Making the home a safe environment

Clients with Parkinson’s disease may struggle to move around the home because of their movement impairments and cognitive decline.  It is important to remove any potentially dangerous items in the home and make it easy to navigate.

Assistance with rehabilitation techniques

There is a variety of physical and mental rehabilitation techniques that can reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.  A home care professional can help those suffering from this illness perform these rehabilitation techniques.   

Help managing medications

It can be difficult for a person with Parkinson’s disease dementia to manage their medications.  Home care staff can ensure that the client receives the appropriate medications in the correct dosages.

If you have any questions about how a Leukemia drug helps Parkinson’s Dementia symptoms or home care support, contact All Heart Home Care at 619-736-4677.  We offer in-home consultations and would love to discuss the many home care services available.

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