Exenatide Trial Shows Promise to Help Motor and Cognitive Function in PD



Exenatide Trial Shows Promise to Help Motor and Cognitive Function in PD

Exenatide is a medication that has been around for quite some time; originally it was used as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes. The method of action of this drug appeared to be neuroprotective, even possibly stimulating the growth of new nerves, which drew the attention of researchers working on PARKINSON’S DISEASE.

Early studies in animal (mouse) models of PARKINSON’S DISEASE showed that exenatide enhanced the effects of levodopa and slowed the development of dyskinesias, the uncontrolled movements that are often caused by levodopa.

Since exenatide had already received Food and Drug Administration as a safe and tolerable medicine, the way to human trials was shorter.  A small trial was conducted by a team lead by Thomas Foltynie, M.D. PhD. at University College of London where he is a Senior Lecturer in the Unit of Functional Neurosurgery.  He has specialized in Parkinson’s research since 2003.   This trial consisted of 44 subjects, 20 who given exenatide to take in addition to their regular Parkinson’s medications and 24 individuals who also had Parkinson’s, but did not receive exenatide and served as controls.  The subjects who received exenatide took 20 micro grams twice a day for 12 months.

At the end of the 12 months, the subjects who had taken exenatide showed significant improvement in both motor and cognitive performance over those who did not using the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS).  At 14 months, two months after discontinuation of the drug, the subjects were again tested and the exenatide treatment group was still maintaining their improvement.  One year after the end of the treatment time both groups were again re-evaluated and the exenatide treatment group continued to show significant benefit in both motor and cognitive function tests.  The control group continued to show a slow deterioration, as would be expected with PARKINSON’S DISEASE.

Dr. Foltynie commented, “We found that patients on exenatide appeared essentially unchanged throughout and beyond the trial period, while the control group had the expected rate of gradual decline in movement and cognitive ability.”  He believes that the promising results of this small trial need to be repeated in future, larger double blind trials

This project was funded by The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, a United Kingdom foundation founded in 2005 with the goal to raise money to fund PARKINSON’S DISEASE research.  Their funded projects have included research on GDNF, alpha-synuclein and the role of calcium channels in PARKINSON’S, among other prospects for treatment.  Tom Isaacs, the foundation president says, “Although we have to remain cautious on the estimation of these results, we are encouraged by the findings.  This is the first time that I have come across a program that has the potential to make an enduring change in PARKINSON’S patients and we are excited by the potential of this scientific research.”

ciar Aviles-Olmos, MD, PhD; John Dickson, PhD, Zinovia Kefalopoulou, MD, PhD; Atbin Djamshidian, MD, PhD; Joshua Kahan, BSc; Peter Ell, FmedSci; Peter Whitton PhD; Richard Wyse; Tom Isaacs; Andrew Lees, MD, FRCP; Patricia Limousin, MD, PhD; and Thomas Foltynie, MRCP, PhD. Motor and Cognitive Advantages Persist 12 Months After Exenatide Exposure in Parkinson’s DiseaseJournal of Parkinson’s Disease, May 2014 DOI: 10.3233/JPD-140364

Peter Whitton, Ph.D.; Stimulating the brain’s natural defences to stop nerve cell death – research project summary (PDF, 115KB)) – See more at: http://www.parkinsons.org.uk/content/diabetes-drug-potential-parkinsons#sthash.TNfWR3xr.dpuf



Review by Marcia McCall

Picture Credit



Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Your Question