Small Study Suggests Ozempic Relative May Slow Parkinson's

Small Study Suggests Ozempic Relative May Slow Parkinson's
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THURSDAY, April 4, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Could a medication similar to the blockbuster weight-loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy slow the ravages of Parkinson's disease?

A new, small study suggests it could: Over the course of a year, a group of French researchers followed 156 people with early Parkinson’s who were randomly given lixisenatide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist made by Sanofi, or a placebo.

What did they discover? Parkinson’s symptoms like tremor, stiffness, slowness and balance got worse in those taking the placebo but not in those taking the drug.

Experts said the findings are a good starting point for future research on the drug's powers against the movement disorder.

It is not a slam dunk, but it is “nibbling at the edges of disease modification,” Dr. Michael Okun, a Parkinson’s disease expert at the University of Florida who was not part of the study, told the New York Times.

Dr. Hyun Joo Chu, from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said the study was “very important,” but she cautioned the early research was only designed to test a hypothesis.

“There are many, many examples of very promising Phase 2 trials,” she told the Times. “People get very excited, and then it doesn’t pan out.”

Not only that, but more than half of the patients suffered from nausea and vomiting, possibly because the researchers started with the highest dose instead of gradually increasing the dosage. When a third of patients had side effects that became intolerable, the investigators halved their dose.

For the researchers, led by Dr. Wassilios Meissner of the University of Bordeaux and Dr. Olivier Rascol of the University of Toulouse, it wasn't that far-fetched to think a GLP-1 drug might slow Parkinson’s.

Studies have found that people with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for Parkinson’s disease, Rascol told the Times. But that increased risk drops in those who take a GLP-1 drug to treat their diabetes.

He added that studies of brain tissue from deceased Parkinson’s patients have revealed abnormalities related to insulin resistance, which is what GLP-1 drugs treat.

While the researchers said they want to do a larger and longer study, Sanofi withdrew the drug in the United States and has started withdrawing it worldwide. The move was made for business reasons, a company spokesman told the Times.

More information

The National Institute on Aging has more on Parkinson's disease.

SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine, April 4, 2024; New York Times

What This Means For You

A drug in the same class as Ozempic and Wegovy slowed the symptoms of Parkinson's in a small study.

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