According to an article presented by PhysOrg, isradipine is the first promising major advancement in the treatment for Parkinson’s disease in 30 years.
For the past 3 decades, Parkinson’s has been treated principally with L-DOPA, which is used because it converts into dopamine. Studies of Parkinson’s patients have shown that they have insufficient dopamine, which is believed to cause the cognitive loss.
Recent research indicates that as dopamine cells mature they depend increasingly on calcium ions. These ions, it turns out, are difficult to control and use up a lot of energy. This stresses out the dopamine cells and as a result they die a premature death.
Researcher James Surmeier, professor of physiology at Northwestern University, Chicago, suspected if he could find a drug that prevented the dopamine cells from absorbing as much calcium as before it would be like finding the fountain-of-youth for those dopamine cells. The drug that he zeroed in on was isradipine, which had been used for hypertension and stoke and was well tolerated. The drug is available commercially under the trade-name, DynaCirc.
Surmeier says about the dopamine cells, “They start acting like they’re youngsters again.”