Tuesday December 11, 2018

Drugs That Suppress Immune System May Protect Against Parkinson’s

Immunosuppresive drugs likely to keep Parkinson's at bay

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People who are on drugs to suppress their immune system are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease — a neurological disorder characterised by tremors, slow movements, stiffness and difficulty walking, a new study claimed.

The results, published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, showed that people with several types of autoimmune diseases, including ulcerative colitis were less likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s than the general population.

The investigators noted that many autoimmune diseases have one common thing, that is, they are treated with drugs that dampen immune activity.

“We’ve found that taking certain classes of immunosuppressant drugs reduces the risk of developing Parkinson’s. One group of drugs in particular looks really promising and warrants further investigation to determine whether it can slow disease progression,” said Brad Racette from Washington University-St. Louis in the US.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The study showed that people taking corticosteroids — used for treating inflammatory diseases — such as prednisone were 20 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s, while those on inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMDH)– an enzyme — inhibitors were about one-third less likely.

While, immunosuppresive drugs may keep Parkinson’s at bay, it may ,however, increase the chances of developing infectious diseases and cancer.

The benefits of these drugs outweigh the costs for people with serious autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis but doctors would probably hesitate to prescribe risky drugs to healthy people to stave off Parkinson’s, especially since there is no reliable way to predict who is on track to develop the disease, the team explained.

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“What we really need is a drug for people who are newly diagnosed, to prevent the disease from worsening. It’s a reasonable assumption that if a drug reduces the risk of getting Parkinson’s, it also will slow disease progression, and we’re exploring that now,” Racette said.

For the study, the team analysed prescription drug data on 48,295 people diagnosed with Parkinson’s and 52,324 people never diagnosed with Parkinson’s and developed an algorithm to predict which people would be diagnosed with the disease. (IANS)

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To Fight The U.S. Opioid Epidemic, Bloomberg Donates $50Mn

Bloomberg, who has been an independent, a Republican and a Democrat, declared lifetime allegiance to the Democratic Party.

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Opioid Epidemic
Former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg speaks to the media in Jackson, Miss., Nov. 29, 2018. Bloomberg’s philanthropy has announced a $50 million donation to help fight the nation’s opioid epidemic. VOA

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charity has announced a $50 million donation to help fight the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Bloomberg Philanthropies said over the next three years it will help up to 10 states address the causes of opioid addiction and strengthen prevention and treatment programs. Its initiative involves a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Johns Hopkins University and Vital Strategies.

Bloomberg, who has been considering a 2020 Democratic presidential bid, was expected to discuss the funding Friday during his keynote address at The Bloomberg American Health Summit in Washington. A spokeswoman said there was “no stated link” between his political aspirations and the $50 million investment to fight opioids.

Bloomberg’s charity said CDC data shows there were more than 70,000 U.S. drug overdose deaths last year, including more than 47,000 from opioids, the highest numbers on record. It said those numbers are a leading factor in the decline of U.S. life expectancy over the past three years.

Bloomberg called the sobering numbers part of “a national crisis.”

opioid epidemic
Cataldo Ambulance medics and other first responders revive a 32-year-old man who was found unresponsive and not breathing after an opioid overdose on a sidewalk in the Boston suburb of Everett, Massachusetts, Aug. 23, 2017. VOA

“For the first time since World War I, life expectancy in the U.S. has declined over the past three years — and opioids are a big reason why,” he said. “We cannot sit by and allow this alarming trend to continue — not when so many Americans are being killed in what should be the prime of their lives.”

He said in a statement he hoped his charity’s work in Pennsylvania, one of the states hardest hit by the opioids crisis, would lay the groundwork “for more effective action across the country.”

The partnership focuses on identifying new approaches to tackle opioids and plugging gaps in current treatment and prevention programs. Staff members from partner organizations will support state and local programs to reduce opioid-related deaths, and successful initiatives and guidelines will be replicated elsewhere, with the goal of creating a model for the rest of the nation.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said he was “deeply grateful” for the financial and technical resources his state will receive through the partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Melania Trump, epidemic
Melania Trump calls opioid epidemic ‘worst drug crisis’ in US.

“From our first responders and health care professionals to teachers and social service providers, heroes across our commonwealth are saving lives and protecting residents in our communities every day from this awful scourge,” Wolf, a Democrat, said in a statement issued by the Bloomberg charity. “We are doing everything we can to help them, and I am confident that this partnership will mark a turning point in our efforts.”

Also Read: Melania Trump Calls Opioid Epidemic The ‘Worst Drug Crisis’ in American Histroy

The Drug Enforcement Administration said this month in its National Drug Threat Assessment that heroin, fentanyl and other opioids continue to be the highest drug threat in the nation.

Bloomberg, who has been an independent, a Republican and a Democrat, declared lifetime allegiance to the Democratic Party and outlined an aggressive timeline for deciding whether to run for president in an interview with The Associated Press this month. He has regularly criticized President Donald Trump and spent a fortune to help elect Democrats in the midterm elections. (VOA)