Trying to find drugs to improve the lives of Parkinson’s patients is an ongoing struggle. In a big leap for sufferers, the FDA has just approved a novel drug known as “Azilect” (rasagiline). The first of its type to be approved by the FDA, this drug inhibits the breakdown of dopamine in the brain.
It does this by blocking monoamine oxidase type B (MAO- B; an enzyme that breaks down dopamine). This means that the body is able to utilize dopamine more thoroughly. This is particularly important in Parkinson’s treatment because recent studies have found that dopamine levels are especially low in Parkinson’s patients.
Dopamine is responsible for submitting information to the part of the brain that facilitates movement and coordination. This is why it’s suspected that Parkinson’s patients have noticeably slower movement control of their body, especially when trying to complete a sequential action. The low dopamine levels slow down the transfer of information to the part of the brain relating to movement, so the motions slow down as well.
The good news is that Azilect has had great success in improving movement and coordination in Parkinson’s patients. The drug also seems very tolerable with few side effects and has proven useful as a single therapy for treating Parkinson’s.
Along with short-term benefits on movement, the drug may also have long-term advantages in slowing the progression of the disease. Researchers say this medication will be especially beneficial to those patients who are in the early stages of Parkinson’s. The FDA is approving it as a first- line therapy against the disease.
You can view the FDA’s information on Azilect at http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2006/NEW01373.html.