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Common Antibiotic May Prevent Parkinson's

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

Nov. 28, 2001 -- A common antibiotic appears to have an interesting side effect: it may prevent Parkinson's disease.

The antibiotic -- minocycline -- is known to have anti-inflammatory effects that are completely separate from its germ-killing activity. Because of this, it is often used to treat inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and acne.

Now a U.S.-German research team shows that the drug protects mice in an experimental model of Parkinson's disease.

Drugs like minocycline may prove effective in preventing and/or altering the progression of Parkinson's disease, report Yansheng Du, PhD, and colleagues of Indiana University and Lilly Research Laboratories, Indianapolis; and Philipps University, Marburg, Germany. The study appears in the Dec. 4 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

When mice are injected with a brain toxin called MPTP, their brains act like the brains of people with Parkinson's disease. If mice get minocycline before or even after taking the poison, they don't get brain damage.

Lab experiments suggest that the antibiotic protects the animals from the same kind of process seen in the brains of Parkinson's patients. If this is true, the drug itself -- or some new form of it -- could be used to treat this devastating disease.

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