The Study's Method
In order to recognize these potential compounds, the scientists grew human nerve cells on their own in their lab. They conducted research and tests to see how over 1,100 different types of medicines, vitamins, dietary supplements, and other molecules had impacted the output of this dangerous protein.
Out of these 1,100 different treatments, scientists found three that were especially interesting. These drugs cut down the protein’s ability to be produced. One of these drugs is the same one that keeps asthmatic child soccer players running around the field without stopping: Salbutamol. Apparently, the drugs that did slow the production down worked by stimulating the b2-adrenoreceptor, which is basically a molecule on certain cells throughout the body that can cause a myriad of different effects, which of course include relaxing the airways. Scientists have found that these drugs seem to change how tightly or loosely the DNA holding the a-synuclein gene coils, and in turn finds out whether or not the gene is active.
Salbutamol is one of the world’s most common and often used drugs. Because of this, scientists decided to follow their findings to see if they found a lower diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease in people who had taken Salbutamol for their asthma. “You need to have very large prescription databases with many years of follow-up to do this analysis,” Scherzer explains. The scientists found this glorious database in Norway, which basically keeps track of all of the drugs prescribed for all 4.6 million citizens. The scientists found what they were looking for.
What was first noticeable was the rarity of the disease in Norway. Their findings showed that about .1% of people who did not use Salbutamol developed Parkinson’s Disease. While this number already sounds pretty low, .04% of people who took Salbutamol developed the disease. Upon adjusting their measurements by taking into consideration factors like age and education, the scientists found that Norwegians who had taken Salbutamol at least once in their lives for their asthma are about 33.3% less likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease.
The amount of Salbutamol taken determined how much lower the chances of developing the incurable disease would be. According to their research, the scientists found that people who took in their highest doses between the years of 2004 and 2007 were about 50% less likely to get the disease in the following seven years. On the other hand, patients who took the lowest doses between those same years only lowered their chances of developing Parkinson’s Disease slightly. This can be found on their report online in Science.