Drug findings offer Parkinson’s hope

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Drugs with the potential to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s disease by stopping faulty brain cells dying have been identified by Sheffield scientists.

Experts from Sheffield University’s Institute for Translational Neuroscience carried out a laboratory study using skin cells from people with the progressive neurological condition.

The researchers tested more than 2,000 compounds to find out which ones could make faulty mitochondria – structures which act as power generators within cells – work normally again.

One of the most promising medications was a drug used to treat certain forms of liver disease.

A trial will now get under way to test the treatment’s safety among people with Parkinson’s.

Dr Oliver Bandmann, reader in neurology at the institute, said: “Parkinson’s is so much more than just a movement disorder. It can also lead to depression and anxiety, and a host of distressing day-to-day problems. There is a desperate need for new drug treatments which could actually slow down the disease’s progression.”

The project took more than five years to complete.

It was funded by Parkinson’s UK and carried out alongside Trondheim University in Norway.