Blogging with Parkinson's

A personal perspective on Young Onset Parkinson's

Rave On: Ecstasy implicated in potential Parkinson’s treatment

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I never was a raver. Here's Buddy Holly filtered through Steeleye Span.Health India’s headline is a tad optimistic: “Ecstasy (MDMA), a rave drug could cure Parkinson’s!” (love the ecstatic exclamation mark), but the article itself is more measured. Of course MDMA isn’t going to cure Parkinson’s. A cure is a long way off. MDMA isn’t even going to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s – but it, or, rather, one of its analogues, might be able to ameliorate the side effects of the ultimate drug for Parkinson’s, levodopa.

“For some time now we’ve known that the drug most commonly sold as ‘ecstasy’, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), ameliorates the side-effects of levodopa therapy. But MDMA has no therapeutic potential because it makes users ‘high’. Although controversial, there is also evidence that MDMA may be neurotoxic, or at least responsible for long-term, deleterious changes in brain chemistry.”
– Matthew Piggot, Associate Professor at The University of Western Australia (UWA)

Basically, we’re talking quality of life. Which is rather important. (Obviously, all of us Parkies yearn for an outright cure, but most of us will be overjoyed with stopping Parkinson’s in its tracks, and we’re pretty much all in favour of anything that helps make the condition more bearable. )

“The best [analogue], which we call UWA-101, is even more effective than MDMA at enhancing the quality of levodopa therapy. […] UWA-101 lengthened on-time by up to 30%. More importantly, UWA-101 increased the proportion of on-time that was of good quality (i.e. without disabling dyskinesia) by 178%. If translated to a medicine, this would mean that Parkinson’s patients could take their medication less frequently and get a better quality result from it.”
– Matthew Piggot, Associate Professor at The University of Western Australia (UWA)

And, as a bonus, the researchers seem pretty confident that their compound is neither psychoactive or toxic.

I’m not on levadopa yet; one of the reasons that I’m not is the side effects that develop after around 10 years of taking it. If this research fulfills its promise, I may never experience the extremes that currently plague established users of the drug.

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