Potential treatment for dyskinesia in Parkinson’s

Results from a one-year project, funded through the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech, suggest that NLX-112 has potential as a future treatment for reducing dyskinesia and improving movement symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Dyskinesia

Around half (40-50%) of people with Parkinson’s will experience dyskinesia after 5 years of taking levodopa, one of the main drugs used to treat Parkinson’s symptoms. Dyskinesia causes involuntary movements that can affect various parts of the body. It can make everyday tasks impossible. 

Michael is 39 and has lived with Parkinson’s since he was 18. Talking about dyskinesia, he says: 

“The side effect developed five years ago but it has ramped up recently and I am struggling with my mental health as a result. I can cope with the stiffness but it’s the twitching movements that I am most embarrassed about. 

“Sometimes I go to work in the morning and my body is nervous, my legs are bouncing around and I get stressed at my desk. It really gets me down; that’s why I never offer to make brews at work.”

Research in the Virtual Biotech

Parkinson's UK has partnered with US biotech company, Neurolixis. Through the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech, they investigated the effect of the drug NLX-112 on dyskinesia.

NLX-112 targets serotonin cells inside the brain. These cells may contribute to the development of dyskinesia by releasing dopamine erratically. The aim of the study was to reduce dyskinesia by decreasing the amount of dopamine released by these cells.

This study tested NLX-112 in marmosets with Parkinson’s-like symptoms. The marmosets had developed the side effect of dyskinesia in response to levodopa treatment, like many people with Parkinson’s.

The study looked at the effect of NLX-112 on its own. It also tested the effect in combination with levodopa, to understand how it impacted both dyskinesia and Parkinson’s symptoms.

Results of NLX-112 and dyskinesia

The results showed that when NLX-112 was used without levodopa, it improved movement problems. With levodopa, the drug successfully reduced dyskinesia. Crucially, the study indicated that NLX-112 did not significantly reduce the effectiveness of levodopa. An issue with many other similar drugs. 

Dr Arthur Roach, our Director of Research said:

“This promising research on NLX-112 offers hope that we can find a treatment that can tackle dyskinesia, which can make everyday tasks, such as eating, writing and walking, extremely difficult. People with Parkinson’s tell us it is one of the most critical issues that impacts quality of life so we’re delighted that this project is progressing so positively.”

What’s next?

The Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech is plugging the funding gap in drug development. It fast-tracks projects with the greatest scientific potential to transform the lives of people with Parkinson’s.

Adrian Newman-Tancredi, PhD, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Neurolixis shares:

“We are currently making plans and seeking funding to take NLX-112 into clinical trials and hope to be able to initiate these before the end of 2020.

“We’re hugely grateful for the funding from the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech which has helped us complete the essential final experiments and preparations to get us to this crucial point.”

Arthur adds: “With 145,000 people living with Parkinson’s in the UK, we are desperately in need of a breakthrough treatment and we’re committed to delivering one by 2024. It is vital we continue to work with biotech companies like Neurolixis to drive forward new treatments that may slow, stop or reverse Parkinson’s and also those, like NLX-112, that could bring relief from symptoms or side effects.”

Find out more

Read more about NLX-112 and what it was originally developed for on our research blog.

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