EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL 4 PM ET, April 16, 2002
Denver, Colo. – The use of different medications during early versus later stages of Parkinson''s disease is critical to managing symptoms - and perhaps the progression - of the disease, according to a study presented at the 54th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. The main pathologic and biochemical characteristic of Parkinson''s disease is the selective cell death of dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain area called substantia nigra and marked decrease in dopamine neurotransmitter produced by these neurons. In a study conducted by the Parkinson Study Group and led by investigators at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders in New Haven, Conn., the rate of this dopaminergic degeneration after early treatment with the drugs pramipexole and levodopa, administered to 82 early Parkinson''s patients, was compared using brain imaging. "Our data suggest that patients initially treated with pramipexole experience a significantly slower rate of loss of dopaminergic neuronal functioning compared to those treated with levodopa," said study author Kenneth Marek, MD. "While there remains debate about treatment for early Parkinson''s disease -- and all treatment should be individualized to meet the needs of the patient - this study adds important new information to the growing body of knowledge on the early treatment of Parkinson''s disease." Ultimately, most patients will be treated with both levodopa and a dopamine agonist, Marek said. Marek cautions that further, long-term study comparing the clinical endpoints of these drug therapies relative to Parkinson''s progression will be required to assess the clinical impact of these imaging findings. This study was supported by Pharmacia Corporation and Boehringer Ingelheim.
The American Academy of Neurology is the world's largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with 34,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.
Editor's Notes:Dr. Marek will present the research during a platform presentation on Tuesday, April 16, 2002 at 2:45 p.m. in Room A 207/9 of the Colorado Convention Center. He will be available to answer media questions during a briefing on Monday, April 15, 2002 at 9:00 a.m. in the AAN Press Room (Lobby C, Room 208) of the Convention Center.