Research suggests the drug lithium may be an effective therapy for neurodegenerative conditions.
In a new study, lithium prevented the accumulation of toxic proteins and cell loss associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in a mouse model of the condition.
Preclinical research is now under way to determine correct dosages for a drug that continues to be the gold standard for the treatment of bipolar disorder.
Researchers from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging are initiating a Phase IIa clinical studies of lithium in humans in conjunction with standard PD drug therapy. Their research appears in the online edition of the Journal of Neuroscience Research.
“This is the first time lithium has been tested in an animal model of PD,” said lead author Julie Andersen, Ph.D. “The fact that lithium’s safety profile in humans is well understood greatly reduces trial risk and lowers a significant hurdle to getting it into the clinic.”
According to Andersen, lithium has recently been suggested to be neuroprotective in relation to several neurodegenerative conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and has been touted for its anti-aging properties in simple animals.
“We fed our mice levels of lithium that were at the low end of the therapeutic range,” said Andersen. “The possibility that lithium could be effective in PD patients at subclinical levels is exciting, because it would avoid many side effects associated at the higher dose range.”
Overuse of lithium has been linked to hyperthyroidism and kidney problems.
“This finding gives us an opportunity to explore lithium as a recognized therapeutic for PD, in doses that are safe and effective,” said Andersen.
Source: Buck Institute