Research achievements: better drug treatments
Our research has pioneered new drugs that, alongside
levodopa, can provide greater relief
from the symptoms of Parkinson's.
This has benefited hundreds of thousands of people with Parkinson's around the world.
Find out more:
Professor Andrew Lees explains how
developments in drugs and treatments are helping people living with
Parkinson's today - Listen here
Levodopa - not the complete answer
Levodopa first became available in the 1960s and is
still the most commonly used drug for Parkinson's.
It can dramatically
improve many of the troublesome symptoms and help people lead
relatively normal lives.
However, as time goes on, some people find that levodopa starts
to lose its effect and can give rise to problems including:
- unwanted involuntary movements called dyskinesias
- suddenly becoming 'frozen' to the spot and unable to move
- abrupt variations in the control of symptoms - known as on/off
Research we funded has shown that using other drugs
and apomorphine with
levodopa can help it work better for longer.
Find out more about levodopa
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boosting the benefits of levodopa
In 1977, researchers funded by Parkinson's UK set up one
of the first UK clinical trials of the new drug selegiline. They
tested it in a small group of people experiencing problems with
their levodopa treatment.
"We were one of the first research groups to
show that for some people, selegiline
can make each dose of levodopa last longer.
"Today, this combined treatment is widely prescribed to control
the symptoms of Parkinson's for longer and minimise the side
effects of levodopa."
Professor Andrew Lees,
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Apomorphine - a rescue
In 1988, we funded a new trial of apomorphine for people
with Parkinson's experiencing disabling movement
Many people found that taking apomorphine in combination
with levodopa provided striking improvements in their
"Because apomorphine is
injected, it works more quickly than tablets. This rapid effect
means that people now have better control over debilitating
symptoms of the condition for much longer.
"Apomorphine can also be given directly under the skin. This
constant infusion helps to overcome the fluctuations associated
with their levodopa.
"To date, apomorphine has helped many thousands of people manage
their disabling symptoms and regain their independence."
Dr Jeremy Playfer,
Retired consultant geriatrician
Find out more about apomorphine in our apomorphine (APO-go) information sheet.
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A personal perspective on
"Levodopa worked really well for me for about 20 years. But
all that changed a few years ago.
"My tremor became worse and my whole body would shake
uncontrollably. I was finding it more and more difficult to do
simple tasks such as buttoning my shirt or tying my shoelaces.
Walking was a struggle. Without warning, my feet would feel glued
to the ground. I would be helpless and unable to take another step
"My specialist said that the levodopa tablets were no longer
controlling my symptoms. So he put me on apomorphine as well.
"I now have a special pump on a belt around my waist which
slowly releases apomorphine into my body 24 hours a day. I have my
life back again and can do the things I enjoy like playing chess
Bill has been living with Parkinson's for 27
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In this section
How you can help
We are closer than ever to finding a cure, but we need your
Our research is totally dependent on voluntary donations.
donated brain can be used in up to 50 research studies. Help us
make 2013 a breakthrough year by signing up.