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The meds Americans crave for weight loss may benefit patients with early Parkinson’s Disease

A group of French researchers have found that the drug Lixisenatide may benefit Parkinson’s Disease (PD) with early motor symptoms and also have a neuroprotective effect, which would improve the clinical course of PD.  Lixisenatide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, making it part of a large family of similar compounds used to treat diabetes and, more recently, obesity. (Ozempic and the weight-loss medication, Wegovy,  are also GLP-1 compounds).

The neurologic benefits may stem from the ability of Lixisenatide to cross the blood-brain barrier. There have been previous studies that support these findings, both the neuroprotective properties in pre-clinical models and improvement in motor and nonmotor outcomes in advanced PD.

In this study, participants were less disabled after one year of daily treatment. The benefits were not just amplification of the benefits of the antiparkinsonian meds, as scores improved in the ON and OFF states, suggesting an improvement in the underlying disease state.

If use of GLP-1 agonists are to be used in early PD, it will be as add-on (adjunct) therapy with antiparkinsonian meds. Lixisenatide is no longer available in the US (the removal was a business decision and not based on safety or efficacy data).  Further studies will be needed on the currently available semaglutides before they become incorporated into routine clinical practice.

Reference: GLP1-R agonist improves Parkinson disease symptoms in early disease Presenter: Wassilios G. Meissner, MD, PhD, University Hospital Bordeaux, France; Multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, parallel-group proof-of-concept study of lixisenatide in patients with early Parkinson’s disease (PD): the LIXIPARK trial. Abstract 94. Presented August 29, 2023.


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