Cancer Drug Helps Parkinson’s Patients

A pill usually prescribed to treat leukemia has had dramatic effects in a few patients with Parkinson’s disease, doctors reported Saturday.

Doctors hoped it might stop the steady and unstoppable progression of Parkinson’s, but it also appears to have reversed some of the worst symptoms in 10 of the 12 patients who tried it.

It’ll take bigger trials to really show if it does make a difference but the findings have encouraged families and patients alike who took part in the tests.

The drug’s called Tasigna. Its generic name is nilotinib and it’s used to fight chronic myelogenous leukemia. High doses kill leukemia cells. The researchers think lower doses will help damaged brain cells get rid of toxic trash that keeps them from functioning properly.

Mary Leigh is one of a dozen patients who tested it for a team at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington.

“Within a couple of days, she kind of perked up and was at a more new normal that she had been at several years before,” says Elizabeth Leigh, her daughter.

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