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New study finds that certain diabetes drugs might be able to prevent Parkinson's disease

by , 24 July 2015

According to a new study in the journal PLoS Medicine, there's a class of diabetes drugs that might prevent users against Parkinson's disease. These drugs include Actos and Avandia, both of which are widely-used.

The study included nearly 44,600 British diabetes patients who took glitazone drugs — Avandia's generic name is rosiglitazone, while pioglitazone is the generic name for Actos.

Researchers compared the medical records of those diabetes patients against the records of more than 120,000 diabetes patients who did not take a glitazone. The investigators tracked these records from 1999 — when glitazones first came onto the market to treat diabetes — until 2013.

Read on to find out more about what the researchers found…

The association between diabetes drugs and the prevention of Parkinson’s disease

During the investigation time time, patients who used glitazones were 28% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those who never took one of the meds, the study found. This association between glitazones and lower risk of Parkinson’s remained even after the researchers adjusted for known predictors of Parkinson’s, such as smoking and head injury.
However, when the investigators looked at past and current glitazone users separately, they found that the lower risk of Parkinson’s was seen only in people currently using a glitazone (a 41%t lower risk of Parkinson’s), not in those who had previously used glitziness but had stopped or switched to another class of diabetes drugs.
This suggests that any benefit wears off once a person goes off the drugs, according to the team led by Dr Ruth Brauer of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, in London.

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How diabetes drugs might ward off the onset of Parkinson’s disease

Dr Minisha Sood is a diabetes expert and an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She called the new finding “an exciting development because it suggests that glitazones may prevent the onset of Parkinson’s disease in patients with diabetes.”
However, “more studies are needed to confirm this finding,” she added, “and studies in non-diabetic patients should be conducted to examine whether glitazone medications would be effective for that population in the prevention of Parkinson’s disease.”
While the study can’t prove cause and effect, the researchers said the findings are in line with prior animal and laboratory tests showing that glitazones might help protect the brain.

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