What did the media report?
The media reported that the early use of a drug called rasagiline (Azilect) may be able to slow down progression of Parkinson’s disease.
What did the research show?
The reports are based on findings from the ADAGIO study announced at the end of last month during the Congress of European Federation of Neurological Societies in Madrid, Spain.
The trial examined rasagiline’s potential disease-modifying effects in 1,176 patients from 14 countries with early, untreated Parkinson’s disease. The drug is currently indicated to treat the symptoms of the condition but not the underlying condition itself.
Subjects were randomised to early-start treatment, consisting of 72 weeks of rasagiline 1 or 2mg once-daily, or delayed-start treatment, consisting of 36 weeks placebo followed by 36 weeks rasagiline 1 or 2mg once daily. Results were based on change in total Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale.
They suggested that initiating treatment early could significantly slow progression of the condition – potentially by giving protection to brain cells. Those who took the drug within four months of being diagnosed demonstrated an advantage over patients who were given it six months later.
What did the researchers say?
Co-lead investigator Warren Olanow, professor of neurology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, said: ‘Delaying disease progression is the most important unmet need in the management of Parkinson's disease. Results of the study show that early treatment with once-daily rasagiline 1mg tablets provided significant clinical benefits that were not obtained by those patients where initiation of Azilect therapy was delayed by nine months.’
What does this mean for nursing practice?
Dr Kieran Breen, director of research for the Parkinson’s Disease Society, said: ‘This study is important in that it underlines that treatment should be given earlier to Parkinson’s patients. However, while what we do know is that over a small time period there is an advantage, we really don't know if this will be maintained over the long term.’