There has been a lot of excitement about exenatide, a treatment for diabetes, that might be able to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s.
www.cureparkinsons.org.uk, the Cure Parkinson’s Trust’s website, has a lot of information about exenatide and an interesting YouTube video presented by Professor Tom Foltynie, the lead researcher, describing how the trials have been conducted*.
However, this treatment does not help with symptom control and people on the trial noticed no improvement in symptoms. However, when people stopped their medication the night before and were assessed off medication, there was a difference between the group of patients taking exenatide and those that were taking the placebo. Both groups had their symptoms rated by the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale and people on the exenatide were three points better than the placebo group.
As a general rule, people with Parkinson’s deteriorate by three points per year, so this can be interpreted as slowing the progression of the condition. However, this was just the motor symptoms (tremor, slowness, stiffness). There was no difference in the two groups when non-motor symptoms (anxiety, constipation, low blood pressure) were compared.
Until the trials are completed, we cannot prescribe exenatide. Although the evidence looks promising, more work needs to be done to see what happens over the longer term.
To volunteer for the trial, contact https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/trialsrecruit
* there’s another interesting video on the subject here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzz_kPuBmTA