Nicotine Improves Some Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease
WebMD News Archive
Newhouse says that no one knows whether the drug will be beneficial when it
is taken for years. That means that it is too soon to recommend a nicotine
patch or gum to Parkinson's patients. "It would be rash to suggest that
people go out and buy the patch," he says. The study is slated to be
published later this year.
Nicotine's effects on memory suggest that it, or related compounds, also may
help treat Alzheimer's patients. In three preliminary studies testing this
possibility, nicotine, or a nicotine look-alike drug called ABT-418, improved
the performance of Alzheimer's patients on tests of memory and attention.
Nicotine analogs also proved effective against Tourette's syndrome, Sanberg
says. In initial studies conducted several years ago, Sanberg's team had shown
that nicotine patch and nicotine gum could ease the symptoms of Tourette's
syndrome in children. Such symptoms include facial tics and a tendency to spout
At the meeting, Sanberg presented recent results from a new study that
tested the effects of a drug called mecamylamine on children aged 8 to 17 with
Tourette's syndrome. Mecamylamine, which works in a similar way to nicotine, is
FDA approved to treat high blood pressure and is sold under the name
The researcher tested 70 children who had fairly severe symptoms and who
were also taking the Tourette's drug, Haldol (haloperidol). Layton Bioscience
has plans to market mecamylamine, Sanberg says.
Two weeks of daily mecamylamine pills reduced Tourette's symptoms, while
placebo pills had no effect. Although the FDA has not yet approved mecamylamine
to treat Tourette's, nicotine patches seem to have the same effect, says
"The data says that if [children with severe symptoms] aren't being
treated with other medications, that the nicotine patch might be useful,"