Washington: A type of drug used to treat diabetes may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson's disease, says a new study.
Diabetes patients taking glitazone anti-diabetes drugs had a 28 percent lower incidence of Parkinson's disease than people taking other treatments for diabetes.
Glitazones activate the peroxisome proliferation-activated gamma (PPARI) receptor, which is found inside cells in many different body organs.
This is the first study to show the relationship between glitazone use and the incidence of Parkinson's disease in humans.
"Our findings provide unique evidence that we hope will drive further investigation into potential drug treatments for Parkinson's disease. It's thought that around one in 500 people are affected by Parkinson's, and to date no effective treatments have been found to directly tackle the neurodegenerative aspect of the disease," said senior author Ian Douglas from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
The study outlined in PLOS Medicine looked at more than 160,000 diabetes patients. PPARI activation by glitazones leads to reduced insulin resistance, which has been useful for treating people with diabetes.
But the receptor has many other functions that have not been studied as thoroughly in humans. Researchers used electronic health records to match 44,597 glitazone users with 120,373 people using other anti-diabetic drugs.
Patients were followed up from 1999 (when glitazones were introduced to treat diabetes) until 2013, to determine how many were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease during that period.
The results showed a 28 percent reduction in incidence of Parkinson's disease among people taking glitazones compared with those taking other anti-diabetic treatments.