British researchers have suggested that Ambroxol Hydrochloride, a drug used to treat breathing disorders by thinning down and breaking up phlegm (sputum), may slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.
Almost 8.5 million people had Parkinson’s disease in 2019, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the destruction of the dopaminergic neurons that control movement.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative brain disease that results in motor symptoms such as slow movements, tremors, rigidity, or imbalance. It can also be associated with cognitive, sensory, sleep, and pain problems.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but drugs, therapies, and surgical treatments have been developed to alleviate its manifestations.
Cough medicine to slow Parkinson’s disease
In a pre-clinical study conducted by the Queen Square Institute of Neurology at University College London (UCL), researchers found that ambroxol, a drug used to treat breathing disorders, can slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.
In 2020, researchers tested ambroxol in patients with Parkinson’s disease. In phase 2 clinical trial, they found that the drug increased levels of GCase (glucocerebrosidase), a protein that allows cells to remove protein residues, particularly alpha-synuclein, more efficiently. This protein builds up in the brains of people with neurodegenerative diseases and causes their symptoms.
Ambroxol is being evaluated in a new clinical trial
Ambroxol was also well tolerated by patients. The phase 3 clinical trial, called ASPro-PD, will begin soon and will be conducted by the Queen Square Institute of Neurology at UCL in collaboration with the UK organization Cure Parkinson’s and the Van Andel Institute. About 330 people affected by Parkinson’s disease will be recruited for this future research. Participants will take ambroxol for two years and their results will be compared with a control group taking a placebo.
Ambroxol’s effectiveness will be assessed by its ability to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease using a scale that includes quality of life and movement. “I am very excited to be leading this exciting project. This is the first time that a drug specifically used against a genetic cause of Parkinson’s disease has reached this level of testing. This represents ten years of extensive and detailed laboratory work,” said Professor Anthony Schapira, lead author of the study and a researcher at UCL’s Queen Square Institute of Neurology.