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Common prostate drug may help prevent Parkinson’s disease

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By Cara Murez

HealthDay reporter

MONDAY February 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Although scientists still don’t know the causes Parkinson’s disease, new research shows an association between a drug some men take for an enlarged prostate and a reduced risk of developing the disease.

A team led by scientists from the University of Iowa, working in collaboration with researchers in Denmark and China, has found that the drug terazosin and similar drugs may have the potential to prevent or delay this debilitating neurodegenerative disease. .

The researchers found that men taking terazosin were between 12% and 37% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease during the follow-up period than men taking another drug during a enlarged prostate called tamsulosin.

“We really don’t have anything that can slow the progression of the disease or prevent the disease from progressing,” said study author Jacob Simmering, assistant professor at the College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City.

“We don’t have neuroprotective treatments and we’ve tried things and nothing really has been done in human trials so far. Something really needs to be done to try to slow this down, not just to relieve some of the symptoms, but actually improve people’s lives, ”said Simmering.

The study used databases from the United States and Denmark to investigate the issue. The data included nearly 150,000 men who had just started terazosin and compared them to about 150,000 men who had started tamsulosin.

Using data from the two different countries provided a more complete picture, Simmering said. Data are from 1996 to 2017 in Denmark and from 2001 to 2017 in the United States.

“It was good that we had two different databases that have complementary strengths and limitations, and that we found a replication between them,” said Simmering.

The research team had previously found that terazosin could prevent or slow Parkinson’s disease in animal models.

Tamsulosin did not have the same cellular energy production as terazosin. This increased cellular energy production is important in the protective effect of terazosin, according to the study. This protective effect increased with the duration of use of the drug.


More people are being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease than can be explained by an increase in the aging of the population, Simmering said. Parkinson’s disease affects around 1% of the population over the age of 60, making it the most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease. Genetics represent about 10% of Parkinson’s cases.

James Beck, scientific director of the Parkinson’s Foundation, has cautioned against the idea that this research will lead to a quick fix for Parkinson’s disease.

“People are not going to take these drugs in the hopes that it will stop or cure or prevent Parkinson’s disease. But that’s never really the point, as we’ve talked about before, of epidemiological studies, ”Beck said. “It provides that guiding light for scientists so that they can really follow and understand why they are seeing something at the population level.”

Beck said the study was part of a line of research that hypothesizes that treatments can help with glycolysis, which is part of the energy metabolism inside a cell. For this reason, people will sometimes describe neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease as “type 3 diabetes,” Beck said.

“We still don’t understand what causes Parkinson’s disease. We still don’t know how to cure it, 80% or 85% of people who develop Parkinson’s disease, we don’t know why they develop their disease, ”said Beck, who would like to see more research.

The research was partially funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and published online Feb. 1 at JAMA Neurology.

While this initial study did not include women because far fewer women take the drug, it is a drug that women can and did take for high blood pressure, Simmering noted.

The downside of the drug is that it can lower blood pressure too far and patients can become hypotensive, Simmering said, and people with Parkinson’s disease are already at risk of hypotensive.

There may be a next trial. It should start by showing safety and effectiveness, including for this problem, he said.

“We know it’s reasonably safe, but it’s still a concern,” Simmering said.


More information

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in the United States learn more about Parkinson’s disease.

SOURCES: Jacob Simmering, PhD, assistant professor, College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City; James Beck, PhD, Scientific Director, Parkinson’s Foundation, Miami; JAMA Neurology, Feb. 1, 2021, online

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