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Tapeworm drug may aid fight against Parkinson’s

By Rod Minchin

A drug used to tackle tapeworms could help lead the fight against Parkinson's disease, according to scientists.

Researchers have identified a drug molecule within a medicine used to treat tapeworm infections which could lead to new treatments for Parkinson's.

Over the last decade, researchers trying to find a cure for the debilitating disease have focused their attention on a protein found in the human body known as PINK1. It is understood that the malfunction of this protein is one of the main causes of Parkinson's.

Several studies have suggested that discovering a drug which is capable of enhancing the function of PINK1 could be a significant step in halting neurodegeneration and therefore slow down or even treat Parkinson's disease.

Researchers at Cardiff and Dundee universities have discovered that a drug traditionally used to treat tapeworm infections, Niclosamide, is also an effective activator of PINK1.

The study, published in iChemBioChem, also revealed that Niclosamide and some of its derivatives could enhance PINK1 performance within cells and neurons. This has given researchers reason to believe the drug could provide new hope for patients living with Parkinson's.

Co-study lead Dr Youcef Mehellou, from Cardiff University, said: "This is an exciting stage of our research and we are positive about the long-term impact it could have on patients' lives."

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