Experts from the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) conducted a large scale drugs trial in the lab using skin cells from people with Parkinson's disease.
    
The researchers tested over 2,000 compounds to find out which ones could make faulty mitochondria work normally again.
    
Mitochondria act as the power generators in all cells of our body, including the brain. Malfunctioning mitochondria are one of the main reasons why brain cells die in Parkinson's.
    
One of the promising medications identified though the research is a synthetic drug called ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA).
    
This licenced drug has been in clinical use for several decades to treat certain forms of liver disease which means that researchers will be able to immediately start a clinical trial to test its safety and tolerability in people with Parkinson's.
    
This will discover the optimum dose to ensure that enough of the drug reaches the part of the brain where Parkinson's develops.
    
Based on this information, larger randomized controlled trials can be carried out to assess the potential of UDCA to treat Parkinson's.
    
The extensive drug screen took over five years to complete.
    
"The best treatments currently available only improve some of the symptoms, rather than tackle the reason why Parkinson's develops in the first place, so there is a desperate need for new drug treatments which could actually slow down the disease progression," said Dr Oliver Bandmann, Reader in Neurology at SITraN.
    
"We are hopeful that this group of drugs can one day make a real difference to the lives of people with Parkinson's," Bandmann said.

(Agencies)

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