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Experimental Gel May Help Those With Advanced Parkinson's
Date:4/18/2012

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- A gel form of two common Parkinson's drugs delivered via a feeding tube-like device may help people with advanced disease reduce medication side effects and possibly avoid brain surgery.

That's the report from researchers who found the experimental levodopa-carbidopa intestinal gel works better than a standard pill regimen in reducing "off" time in people with advanced Parkinson's disease.

About 1 million people in the United States are living with Parkinson's disease, a progressive movement disorder marked by tremor, slowness and/or rigidity. The disease slowly destroys the nerve cells in the brain that produce the chemical dopamine, which controls muscle movement.

Treatment with oral levodopa-carbidopa -- brand names include Sinemet, Sinemet CR and Parcopa -- helps replace dopamine levels, but higher doses and long-term use of the oral drugs can cause troublesome side effects, including spontaneous and involuntary movements (dyskinesias) or "off" times.

The new gel is infused through a portable pump connected to a gastric tube that feeds the small intestine. "Pills have a shorter half-life, but delivering the medication via gel allows for more continuous delivery and repairs the brain levels in a more normal way," said study author Dr. C. Warren Olanow, a professor of neurology and neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City. As a result, "you have less 'off' time and less dyskinesia," he added.

While not a cure for the disease, the method is an important step forward, Olanow said. "It's a proof of concept that when you deliver the medication continuously, you get a better response without worsening dyskinesia," he noted.

And the new gel "may also have applications in early Parkinson's disease to help people avoid the side effects that come from long-term continuous use of these medication
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