Paris: People suffering from advanced Parkinson’s disease could benefit long-term from continuous delivery of medication through a device similar to an insulin pump, a recent French study found.
Published in Nature Partner Journals with the Parkinson’s Foundation, the real-world observational study followed 110 patients being treated at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris.
The second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s is sometimes treated with the medication apomorphine to lessen symptoms such as shaking, stiffness or slowness of movement.
It helps replace the dopamine typically lacking in Parkinson’s patients, but taken orally it can cause dopamine to spike and then drop, leading to dyskinesia or muscle spasms.
“For those patients, continuous delivery is a good option,” study co-author and neurologist Emmanuel Flamand-Roze told AFP.
A randomised, placebo-controlled 2018 study of Parkinson’s patients in 23 European hospitals already found that medication administered using the device reduced “off-time”, the period when symptoms worsen as the medication wears off.
Flamand-Roze said his real-world observational study provided an essential complement to the randomised trial, which looked at patients over a period of 12 weeks.
“Our study is carried out through observations of patients in the real world, some of whom are over 80 years old. The first study provided proof to the scientific community, but it doesn’t look at whether it works in practice and over the long term,” he said.
Flamand-Roze compares the device to an insulin pump, which is about the size of a pager. It is worn on the body and regulates the delivery of insulin via a small tube inserted under the skin. It can be worn around the clock or just during the day, in a pocket, on a belt or around the neck, and automatically regulates drug delivery.
“With diabetes, sugar is too high and we lower it. Similarly, with Parkinson’s, it’s dopamine that’s too low and we administer an equivalent continuously.”
The study also found the treatment was effective at stabilising symptoms in patients who suffered movement fluctuations prior to starting the treatment. However, he noted that the treatment had its limits.
“It doesn’t slow the progression of the disease, it only treats the symptoms,” he said.
As Parkinson’s progresses, it can increasingly affect movement and cognition and even lead to dementia.
Flamand-Roze said two similar studies were currently underway in France. One looks at whether the pump could improve sleep in patients; the other at whether it could be useful to patients in the earlier stages of the disease. – New Malaysia Herald