Parkinson's Disease: Training Old Drugs to do New Tricks
It is a known fact that it takes a lot of money, effort, and time to develop a new drug from scratch. So, instead of developing something new, some researchers think that it may be better to “repurpose” some of the drugs that are already available on the market. By repurposing these drugs, researchers believe that they can use them to treat Parkinson's disease, and maybe other disorders that do not have a cure.
For those unaware, drug repurposing or drug repositioning is the process of assigning known compounds to other diseases. As these drugs have already undergone clinical trials and are already clinically approved, patients and doctors alike can be assured that they are already safe. Because of that, information on the said drug including its potential toxicity is also highly available. So, the risk of it creating adverse side effects is greatly reduced.
Repurposing is also much cheaper compared to developing new drugs, especially because it allows pharmaceutical companies to gain more profit, which is why some of them endorse this strategy. Apart from that, it also has a higher success rate. Drugs that have undergone repurposing can also be ready for clinical trials quicker, speeding up the process of the Food and Drug Administration reviewing it. This only means that the people who are suffering from diseases can have easier access to the drug that they need.
To put it simply, drug repurposing attempt to see where else they can use these drugs already approved for different diseases. It is the process of determining whether a specific drug is also effective and safe to use in treating other diseases aside from what it was initially for.
Two Categories of Drugs that Can Be Repurposed
The drugs that can be repurposed can be categorized into two types – (1) drugs whose effectiveness has been proven in treating their primary condition and (2) drugs that have failed in treating their initial diseases but are effective in treating other disease. Two examples of both categories are asprin and Thalidomide. As everyone knows, aspirin has been used to relieve pain, but now it is also used by doctors to prevent heart attacks, which falls into the first category. This differs from Thalidomide. As it was once used to treated morning sickness, it's now used as a way treat leprosy because it was found as a possible cause for birth defects.
Using old drugs for Parkinson's disease
Just like what was mentioned before, developing new drugs can be a long and expensive process. In fact, the average time frame with developing drugs for neurodegenerative diseases is 13 years, which can cost up to 2 billion dollars. Currently, specialists are looking into the effects of older drugs to see if they can be used to fend off the symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's.