Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Parkinson's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Drug Averts Parkinson's Disease Brain Damage

Mirapex May Protect Brain Cells From Parkinson's Disease
WebMD Health News

Oct. 13, 2004 -- Mirapex, a drug used to treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease, might also help guard the brain against the disease's damage.

The finding, published in the Oct. 11 issue of the online journal BMC Biology, is based on lab tests with mice given Parkinson's disease.

Previous research suggested that Mirapex might block brain damage caused by Parkinson's disease. However, earlier animal studies used massive doses that wouldn't be safe for people.

Now, researchers report success in animal experiments with a Mirapex dose that humans with Parkinson's disease could tolerate.

Parkinson's disease affects nerve cells in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra. When healthy, these cells produce dopamine, a brain chemical used to help control the body's movements.

Parkinson's disease breaks down those cells, making dopamine levels drop and scrambling the brain's movement signals.

The disease usually strikes later in life, after age 50, although some people are diagnosed in their 30s and 40s. Patients may experience problems including tremors, muscle stiffness, and slowed motion.

The cause of Parkinson's disease is not known, and there is no cure. However, symptoms can be treated with drugs including Mirapex, which imitates dopamine's effects.

The new study was conducted by researchers including Jeffrey Joyce of the Thomas H. Christopher Center for Parkinson's Disease Research at the Sun Health Research Institute in Sun City, Ariz.

Can Mirapex Stop Parkinson's Disease?

Joyce and colleagues studied 10 mice.

For five days, they treated the mice with a daily shot of Mirapex or a placebo. Mirapex, which is available in pill form for humans, was given in a dose similar to what people would take, say the researchers.

On the fourth and fifth days, some of the mice also received two daily injections of a chemical called MPTP, which destroys brain cells in the substantia nigra and leads to Parkinson's disease. The rest of the mice received a placebo.

Mirapex had a powerful protective effect.

It blocked all nerve cell loss in the mice given MPTP, safeguarding their brains from Parkinson's-like symptoms.

"These results suggest that protection occurs at clinically suitable doses of [Mirapex]," write the researchers.

Previous studies used Mirapex doses that were 10-30 times higher, according to a news release.

Further work is needed to explore Mirapex's possible protective effects in humans.

Today on WebMD

Parkinsons disease illustration
Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
hands on walker
How does the disease progress?
man with serious expression
8 common questions and answers.
intelligence quotient illustration
What are the advantages of DBS?
Parkinsons Disease Medications
Questions Doctor Parkinsons
Eating Right
Parkinsons Exercise
daughter consoling depressed mother
senior man's hands
Parkinsons Daily