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Can a blood pressure drug protect the brain from Parkinson's?

April 23, 2019 / Catharine Paddock
SHARESHARESHARE

A prescription drug already in use for the treatment of high blood pressure could be effective against conditions such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Huntington's, in which toxic proteins build up in brain cells. Scientists at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health in China suggest that the hypertension drug felodipine could be a promising candidate for "repurposing" as a treatment for neurodegenerative conditions. In experiments with zebrafish and mice, they showed that felodipine can prompt a cellular recycling process called autophagy to clear away toxic proteins in brain cells, or neurons. "Our data suggest," they write in a recent Nature Communications paper, "that felodipine induces autophagy in neurons and enhances removal of a range of disease-causing proteins: mutant huntingtin, mutant [alpha]-synuclein, and tau."