Scientists are investigating the potential of an old drug used to treat liver disease for treating patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). A new trial will evaluate the safety and tolerability of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) in patients with PD and determine its effectiveness in decelerating the disease progression.
The study will be conducted by researchers at the University of Sheffield in collaboration with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation at centres in Sheffield and London. UDCA was identified as a promising candidate to restore the mitochondrial function in PD, after screening 2000 drugs.
Researchers plan to quantify mitochondrial function using 31P magnetic resonance imaging-spectroscopy (31P-MRS) to determine whether UDCA normalises the function of the affected brain tissue in patients with PD. Biosensors worn by patients will be used to assess the effect of UDCA on motor impairment. Repeated measurements of motor impairment throughout the trial will help scientists understand if UDCA is capable of slowing down the progression of PD.
Nearly 145,000 individuals in the United Kingdom are currently affected by PD. Professor Oliver Bandmann, who is leading the study, said: "A drug which will slow down the progression of the disease – even after the first few years of diagnosis – would help people to have an improved quality of life for longer.”