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Apr 01, 2017 05:12 PM EDT

University of Nebraska Research Offers Hope To Parkinson's Patients

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Parkinson's disease afflicts seven to 10 million people around the world and 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease every year. Those afflicted experience rigidity or immobility in their motor skills. However, researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center have discovered a method to combat the degenerative nature of Parkinson's.

Researchers have conducted a clinical trial using a drug for cancer patients to people suffering from Parkinson's disease. The patients reacted positively to drug and have shown some progress in their condition.

The drug, whose trade name is called Sargramostim, is currently used for patients undergoing chemotherapy and is not available for people with Parkinson's. However, the research showed that the drug powers up the immune system and turn the destructive nature of white blood cells into a protective one to protect the brain.

During the trial, patients who were given the drug showed an improvement in their motor skills and a reduction in the tremors that characterize Parkinson's disease. This is the first time that a drug can halt or slow down the disease. The drugs that are currently in use only fights the symptoms for a period of time before the patient finally succumbs to the disease.

The researchers are excited because the drug affects the disease itself rather than just the symptoms offering hope to patients and their families. However, they cautioned that they need a bigger number of subjects to further confirm their initial study. They added that they will review the data first and improve the formulation and administration of the drug before they begin another round of study.

Parkinson's patient Tim Hoffman, a retired teacher who was part of the clinical trial, said that his posture and flexibility has improved. However, they were not informed prior to and during the study that they were given Sargramostim.

The study was published in the Nature Research journal.

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