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Parkinsons Disease

Club Drug Ecstasy Could Lead to New Treatments for Parkinsons

16 years, 10 months ago

2209  0
Posted on Nov 22, 2002, 4 a.m. By Bill Freeman

Results of a recent study suggest that the club drug ecstasy could help to rid Parkinson's sufferers of the uncontrollable arm and leg movements caused by drugs used to treat the disease. Researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK decided to test the effect of ecstasy, or MDMA, after seeing a documentary where a former stuntman suffering from Parkinson's claimed the drug allowed him to regain control of his body for several hours at a time.

Results of a recent study suggest that the club drug ecstasy could help to rid Parkinson's sufferers of the uncontrollable arm and leg movements caused by drugs used to treat the disease. Researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK decided to test the effect of ecstasy, or MDMA, after seeing a documentary where a former stuntman suffering from Parkinson's claimed the drug allowed him to regain control of his body for several hours at a time. Concerns about the possible side effects of ecstasy ruled out human trials, so the team decided to test the drug on marmosets with a Parkinson's-like disorder, which were also treated with the Parkinson's drug L-dopa. In normal circumstances, marmosets on L-dopa move their arms and legs almost constantly. However, after the animals were given a dose of ecstasy the movements virtually stopped for as long as six hours. Thus, suggesting that ecstasy somehow blocks the unwanted side effects of L-dopa, without inhibiting its beneficial effects. The researchers suspect that ecstasy works in this manner by stimulating the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, supplies of which can be depleted after taking L-dopa for long periods. However, the researchers are not suggesting that sufferers take ecstasy, nor do they want to treat people with the drug. Instead, they want to look for drugs that have a similar effect upon the brain. The findings were reported just one month after the journal science published a paper suggesting that ecstasy can actually cause Parkinson's disease.

SOURCE/REFERENCE: Reported by www.newscientist.com on the 6th November 2002

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