Hope for ALS patients: Parkinson’s drug shows promise in early trials

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Imagine slowly losing control over your muscles, not being able to move or talk. That’s what happens with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

This terrible illness is currently incurable. The only treatments available right now are meant to manage symptoms and provide comfort. But now, there may be a ray of hope for people suffering from ALS.

Testing a New Treatment: Ropinirole

Scientists from Japan have found that a drug called ropinirole, which is usually used to treat Parkinson’s disease, might help delay the progression of ALS.

This could mean that people with ALS could have better control over their muscles for a longer time.

This discovery came from a clinical trial where they tested the drug on ALS patients to see if it was safe and could possibly help them.

How They Did the Testing

The team of researchers, led by Hideyuki Okano from the Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo, worked with 20 patients who had ALS.

They had a careful plan for the trial: For the first 24 weeks, some patients were given ropinirole, while others were given a placebo (a pill that looks like the medicine but doesn’t do anything).

Then, for the next 24 weeks, all the patients were given ropinirole.

During the trial, they kept a close watch on the patients to see how their disease was progressing.

They looked at things like how active the patients were, how much they could move on their own, how strong their muscles were, and how well their lungs were working.

What They Found

After all the testing, they found that the patients who had been given ropinirole were more active and their disease didn’t progress as quickly as those who were given the placebo.

They also found that the drug was safe to use in people with ALS.

However, the patients who started taking ropinirole halfway through the trial didn’t show the same improvements.

This led the scientists to believe that the treatment might work better if it’s started early and given for a longer period of time.

More Discoveries in the Lab

Along with the clinical trial, the researchers also did some lab experiments. They took some of the patients’ blood and used it to create special cells called induced pluripotent stem cells.

These cells can become any type of cell in the body, and the researchers turned them into motor neurons, the type of cells that are affected in ALS.

When they compared these motor neurons to healthy ones, they saw some big differences. But when they treated the ALS motor neurons with ropinirole, many of these differences decreased.

This suggested that ropinirole might be helping to correct some of the problems caused by ALS.

What’s Next?

While these results are promising, more research needs to be done. The scientists hope to do more studies and eventually create a way to predict which patients will respond best to ropinirole.

This could mean a big step forward in treating ALS and giving hope to those affected by this devastating disease.

If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies about Vitamin E that may help prevent Parkinson’s disease, and Vitamin D could benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about new way to treat Parkinson’s disease, and results showing COVID-19 may be linked to Parkinson’s disease.

The study was published in Cell Stem Cell.

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