Victims of Parkinson's disease (PD) suffer involuntary body movements that are a side effect from the medication most commonly used to treat the disease. But low-dose lithium, a medication that's been used for years to treat bipolar disorder, can ease the side effects, according to researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.
The study, which was published in Brain Research, involved mice with Parkinson's that were given Carbidopa/Levodopa, a drug used to boost levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is low in Parkinson's patients. While it's the most effective drug available to manage Parkinson's symptoms, it causes abnormal involuntary movements (AIMS) in 30 percent of patients after four to six years. About 90 percent of patients suffer from AIMS after nine years of using the drug.
Plans for a clinical trial of low-dose lithium to treat Parkinson's patients are in early stages.