In a recent study supported by The Cure Parkinson's Trust (CPT) and the Barcapel Foundation, researchers have concluded that the elevated risk of Parkinson’s disease in patients with type 2 diabetes might be mitigated depending on the type of drugs prescribed to treat this type of diabetes.

In the study 'Diabetes medications and risk of Parkinson’s disease: a cohort study of diabetes patients' led by Dr Li Wei and Professor Tom Foltynie at UCL, and published in Brain, a large medical database was examined and results reported that the two particular classes of diabetes treatments - GLP-1 agonists and DPP4 inhibitors - can reduce the risk of developing Parkinson's in a cohort of type 2 diabetes patients.

Since 2009 CPT has been supporting clinical trials of GLP-1 agonists: exenatide, Lixisenatide and Liraglutide, and more recently the DPP4 inhibitor alogliptin, through the International Linked Clinical Trials programme. This recent evidence adds significantly to the story of why these treatments may be important in changing the progression of Parkinson’s.

The researchers used a large database of anonymised electronic medical records collected from UK primary care clinics (The Health Improvement Network), and looked to see if individuals who were taking exenatide (or associated GLP-1 agonists) had a reduced risk of developing Parkinson's over time. They also examined two other classes of diabetes drugs (DPP4 inhibitors and glitazones). The results of this new study indicated that of the 100,288 cases analysed, users of either GLP-1 agonists or DPP4 inhibitors had a reduced risk of developing Parkinson's. This finding provides further evidence that exenatide is having a beneficial effect in the context of Parkinson's and provides further support for the ongoing clinical trials evaluating its disease modifying potential in people with Parkinson's.

Find out more about GLP-1 agonists and Parkinson's.

The Way Forward

This study provides further verification for the Phase lll exenatide trial for people with Parkinson's led by Professor Foltynie and his team at UCL. This trial will recruit 200 people with Parkinson’s across six centres: London (Kings and UCL), Salford/Manchester, Oxford, Plymouth and Edinburgh.

In mid-March recruitment and screening was paused, due to the pandemic. Thankfully UCL, Oxford and Plymouth are once again open for recruitment and the remaining sites are due to open in the coming months.

Find out more about the phase lll exenatide (Bydureon) trial.