Party drug ecstasy a Parkinson's drug?

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Ecstasy properties help with Parkinson's therapy

Ecstasy is best known as an illegal party drug of rave culture. However, the contained methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) can also relieve the “involuntary movements” when treating Parkinson's with the drug levodopa, according to a study by an Australian research team led by Professor Matthew Piggott from the University of Western Australia (UWA).

The scientists report that the positive effects of ecstasy on the side effects of levodopa therapy in Parkinson's patients have been known for a long time, but the MDMA is said to have “no therapeutic potential” because “it is a user high There are also indications that ecstasy can have a neurotoxic effect or is at least responsible for "the long-term, disadvantageous changes in the chemistry of the brain", report Prof. Piggott and colleagues. However, his team had succeeded in separating the negative properties of MDMA from the positive ones, so that it could be used as part of Parkinson's therapy.

Uncontrolled jerky movements as a side effect of Parkinson's therapy Parkinson's patients suffer from considerable impairments of their motor skills, which makes movement in the later stage of the disease considerably more difficult. The drug levodopa helps those affected to maintain their mobility. But long-term use often has significant side effects. On the one hand, the periods of time in which the patients are largely symptom-free (reduction in the therapeutic effect) are shortened, and on the other hand, the “jerky, involuntary movements” known as dyskinesia are becoming increasingly apparent, write Prof. Piggott and colleagues in the journal “Journal of the Federation of American” Societies for Experimental Biology ”. According to the researchers, dyskinesia is often mistakenly considered a symptom of Parkinson's disease, when in fact it is a side effect of levodopa treatment.

Ecstasy-like substance improves Parkinson's treatment In collaboration with Parkinson's experts from Toronto, Professor Piggott and colleagues from the University of Western Australia managed to "separate the beneficial effects of MDMA from its undesirable properties." They developed what is known as MDMA -Analogues (MDMA analog substances) new compounds with "MDMA-like chemical structure", according to the UWA announcement. "The best compound we call UWA-101 is even more effective than MDMA in improving the quality of levodopa therapy," said Professor Piggott. In model experiments on animals, UWA-101 extended the periods in which the Parkinson's drug had an effect by 30 percent. It is even more important that UWA-101 improved the control of symptoms (no deactivation of dyskinesia) by 178 percent during the duration of the effect, Piggott continued.

Hope for Parkinson's patients If the properties can be transferred to a Parkinson's medication, "this would mean that Parkinson's patients have to take their medication less frequently and at the same time a better quality of treatment can be achieved," explained Professor Piggott. In experiments with rats, psychopharmacologist Professor Mathew Martin-Iverson and doctoral student Zak Millar from the University of Western Australia have also shown that UWA-101 most likely does not have any psychoactive effects and is also not toxic to the brain cells. When examined using a cell line, the MDMA-like substance showed no neurotoxicity. "UWA-101 is therefore a promising lead structure for the development of new drugs to improve the quality of life for Parkinson's patients," concluded Professor Piggott and colleagues. (fp)

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