November 29, 2004

Antibiotic May Help With Parkinson’s Disease

Researchers at the University of California at Santa Cruz have shown the antibiotic rifampicin might help treat people suffering from Parkinson's disease.

The drug, normally used to treat leprosy and tuberculosis, can reportedly prevent the formation of protein fibrils associated with the death of brain cells in people with Parkinson's disease.

The researchers studied the effects of rifampicin in test tube experiments and are currently conducting studies with cell cultures and mice to determine whether the same effects occur in living cells.

Although these are just the first steps along the path toward clinical studies in humans, the findings suggest that rifampicin and related compounds might be effective in preventing fibril formation and associated neurological damage in patients with Parkinson's disease, said Anthony Fink, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCSC. If it works in people, that would really open up the possibility of stopping the progression of Parkinson's disease when it is first diagnosed.

The study appears in the journal Chemistry and Biology.