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Doctors and patients excited as UI researchers start trials to treat Parkinson’s

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) – Dottie Armens was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2007 and now leads a support group in Iowa City for others fighting the disease.

“I think people realize they’re not alone that way,” Armens said. “Being able to talk to somebody else who knows what you’re going through is helpful.”

Dr. Nandakumar Narayanan says it’s hard to see his Parkinson’s patients get worse each visit.

“A little bit of their humanity is going to be chipped away. And that’s incredibly frustrating,” Narayanan said.

He thinks soon, that may change.

Doctors at the University of Iowa started collecting prospective data this week on a drug that could stunt the effects of Parkinson’s disease.

A collaborating doctor in China noticed patients on the drug Terazosin, for enlarged prostate, were not seeing any decline in their Parkinson’s, as a result of increased cell activity. They then tested the hypotheses with animal models.

After getting access to a larger data base and confirming their findings with over 3,000 cases, they’re now testing the drug in a double-blind experiment to make sure it’s safe for non-male patients and more.

“That’s when we really got excited. Because it looked like (it was happening) not only in animals but in real life people, too,” Dr. Michael Welsh said, an internal medicine professor at UI.

Doctors are still looking for participants for phase one of their trials, and are looking for funding for phase two. To find out more, contact Dr. Nandakumar Narayanan.

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Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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