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New research in Japan shows anti-melanoma drug may be effective against Parkinson’s disease

JIJI

A team of Japanese universities has found that an existing drug for malignant melanoma, a type of skin cancer, may be effective against Parkinson’s disease.

The drug, dabrafenib, curbs nerve cell death, said the team of researchers from Kobe University, Osaka University and the University of Tokyo. An article on the team’s discovery will be posted on the online version of the British journal Human Molecular Genetics.

In Parkinson’s disease, the death of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the brain leads to symptoms including shaking limbs and gait problems.

“Currently, dopamine injection is the main treatment for the disease. Its combination with dabrafenib is expected to be effective in slowing the progress of the disease,” said University of Tokyo professor Tatsushi Toda, who led the research team.

The team deduced the drug’s new effect through database analysis, and confirmed it through experiments with mice and cultured cells.

It aims to find an effective method to administer dabrafenib and an appropriate dosage amount.