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Nasal Drugs Prove Promising in Parkinson’s Disease Model

neurons in parkinson's disease graphic illustration

At this time, there are no medical treatments that cure or slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. While some treatments are available to ease Parkinson’s symptoms, the medical community is in the midst of an urgent search for treatments that effectively slow the disease’s effects. Now, researchers may have had a breakthrough: Recent research published in Nature Communications shows that two lab-developed and nasally-delivered peptides could slow the progression of Parkinson’s in affected mice. Read on to find out about this Parkinson’s disease model and its potential implications for patients.

neurons in parkinson's disease graphic illustration

Developing the Parkinson’s Disease Model

Science Daily reports that researchers at Rush University Medical Center used unique mitigation methods to successfully slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease in mice. During the study, Rush researchers assessed mice with Parkinson’s disease, which is the most common movement disorder, affecting nearly one million people in the United States alone. Researchers used mice that model Parkinson’s disease to evaluate the disease ameliorating effect of two different peptides, or chains of amino acids. The goal of this experiment was to slow the spread of alpha-synuclein, a protein that results in abnormal protein deposits that are hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease. These deposits are known as Lewy bodies.

Lewy Bodies and Parkinson’s

As mentioned above, the presence of Lewy bodies in the brain is a key indicator of Parkinson’s disease. These deposits are associated with the loss of certain essential neurons in the brain, called dopaminergic neurons. These essential neurons produce two important chemicals that act as neurotransmitters, or messengers between brain cells. The first neurotransmitter is acetylcholine, which contributes to memory and learning; the second is dopamine, which is crucial for cognition, movement, sleep, and mood.

Compromised neurotransmitters can result in problems with thinking, behavior, movement, and mood. Lewy bodies are also associated with the development of Lewy body dementia, as well as a rare neurological disorder called multiple system atrophy (MSA). As explained by study leader Kalipada Pahan, PhD, the Floyd A. Davis Professor of Neurology at Rush University Medical Center, there is currently no effective treatment for Lewy body dementia or MSA caused by Lewy bodies. “Understanding how these diseases work is important to developing effective drugs that inhibit alpha-synuclein pathology, protect the brain, and stop the progression of Lewy body diseases,” Pahan told Science Daily.

Study Findings

The study had one primary goal: to test two lab-developed peptides known as TLR2-interacting domain of Myd88 (TIDM) and NEMO-binding domain (NBD). Researchers delivered the drugs to mice with Parkinson’s via the animals’ noses. After careful study, the mice displayed slowed brain inflammation and reduced spread of the aforementioned alpha-synuclein protein. Along the way, the researchers noticed that the mice showed signs of improved gait, balance, and other motor functions. These findings clearly have major implications for the Parkinson’s community. “If these results can be replicated in patients, it would be a remarkable advance in the treatment of devastating neurological disorders,” Pahan told Science Daily.


The successful Rush University study is just the latest example of medical breakthroughs associated with animal models – mice with Parkinson’s disease, in this case. The astounding results may prove life-changing for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, as well as other degenerative conditions associated with the presence of Lewy bodies in the brain. With further research, the medical community may finally have the means to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease and related conditions.

Scantox is a part of Scantox, a GLP/GCP-compliant contract research organization (CRO) delivering the highest grade of Discovery, Regulatory Toxicology and CMC/Analytical services since 1977. Scantox focuses on preclinical studies related to central nervous system (CNS) diseases, rare diseases, and mental disorders. With highly predictive disease models available on site and unparalleled preclinical experience, Scantox can handle most CNS drug development needs for biopharmaceutical companies of all sizes. For more information about Scantox, visit www.scantox.com.