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New drug may halt Parkinson's

13th June 2007

A drug has been discovered which may slow or even halt Parkinson's disease.

Researchers from Northwestern University found that isradipine, a drug used to treatment hypertension and stroke, could be used to restore dopamine neurons, which are critical for sending messages to the brain.

James Surmeier, who worked on the study, said: "Out hope is that this drug will protect dopamine neurons, so that if you began taking it early enough, you won't get Parkinson's disease, even if you were at risk.

"It would be like taking a baby aspirin every day to protect your heart."

It works by blocking calcium from entering the dopamine neuron, lowering the risk of cell stress and making them more resistant.

According to Mr Surmeier, the cells "start acting like they're youngsters again".

The drug is thought to offer hope to sufferers as well those at risk of getting the disease, but trials are still continuing.