Diabetes drug said to have preventative effect against Parkinson’s disease

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A class of drugs – glitazone – which is used to treat diabetes may also find use in preventing Parkinson’s disease, a new study has revealed.

Osiglitazone or pioglitazone are the two drugs that fall under the glitazone class of diabetes drugs and a study has revealed that people using these drugs are relative protected against PD as compared to those who had used different treatments for diabetes.

In the cohort study conducted by Dr. Ruth Brauer, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, 44,597 people exposed to glitazones were compared against up to five individuals with diabetes who never used glitazones – 120,373 in total.

Researchers analysed over 14 years worth of data from 1999 to 2013. Researchers found that those on glitazones were 28 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with PD than individuals with diabetes who never used glitazones.

In a bid to make sure that other factors which are known predictors of PD – such as smoking and head injury – are also taken into account, researchers made necessary adjustments, but the results remained unchanged.

When the researchers considered past and current glitazone users separately, they found that the decreased incidence in PD was only observed in individuals currently using a glitazone (a 41 per cent decrease in PD incidence), not those who had previously used glitazone but stopped or switched to another medication, indicating little to no persisting benefit of glitazone use.

The cohort study echoes the findings of animal and in vitro studies which have already suggested that glitazones and other drugs may have neuroprotective effects.

Researchers warn that the findings do not apply to people without diabetes and that they do not indicate whether glitazones can slow PD progression. Further, it is possible that unknown patient characteristics associated with glitazone use might also be linked to PD, contributing to the appearance of a direct causal connection. In addition, glitazones have been associated with serious side effects.

However, the authors are hopeful that these findings may pave the way towards other treatments that target the same pathway: “Our findings indicate that interventions based on the same mechanisms as PPAR? agonist activity may be fruitful targets for future research in PD.”