According to a recent pilot study, Novartis’ nilotinib which is a common blood cancer drug brings new hope to dementia patients. Study authors claim that the drug significantly improved the condition of dementia patients affected by Parkinson and of those with Lewy body dementia.
In the small trial, 11 of 12 dementia patients that were given nilotinib for half of year showed signs of improvement in their motor and mental functions. The results were disclosed Saturday at the annual gathering of the Society for Neuroscience.
Additionally, some study participants saw their symptoms improve dramatically. For instance, a female patient regained the ability of feeding herself, a male patient could walk without assistance, while three other patients regained speech.
Fernando Pagan, co-author of the research and researcher at Georgetown University Medical Center, said that the findings were the most ‘exciting’ news in more than two decades of research.
If larger trials confirm the results, the blood cancer drug brings new hope to dementia patients worldwide because nilotinib has the potential of reversing a neurodegenerative process that kills off brain cells in dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s patients.
One of the volunteers involved in the study recalled how Parkinson’s gradually took control over his life. He said that ever since he was diagnosed with the condition in 1997, his motor and brain functions steadily declined. At first, the disease affected his arms, but in time he could barely walk and his speech became impaired.
In ten years’ time, the disease started to affect his brain. The patient said that he wasn’t able to focus on reading a book even though friends and family flooded him with must-read books. He could only read the first chapter because he couldn’t focus on them anymore.
His wife recalls that he also became less interested in doing household choirs or talking to friends and family members. Yet after less than a month on the blood cancer drug, the patient regained interest in simple home activities like loading clothes in the dryer or taking out the trash. Furthermore, the patient’s speech improved and he could read again books and newspaper pieces from beginning to end.
Neurologist Charbel Moussa, co-author of the study, had the idea to use the blood cancer drug on people affected by neurodegenerative diseases. Moussa learned from past research that Parkinson’s disease associated with dementia and Lewy body dementia had something in common. Both diseases fatally poisoned brain cells with toxic proteins. So, the doctor thought that the blood cancer drug may reverse the process. And, he was right.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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