A nicotinic drug approved for smoking cessation significantly improved the walking ability of patients suffering from an inherited form of ataxia, reports a new clinical study led by University of South Florida researchers.
The randomized controlled clinical trial investigated the effectiveness of varenicline (Chantix®) in treating spinocerebellar ataxia type 3, or SCA3. The findings were published online earlier this month in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neuroscience.
Lead author Dr. Theresa Zesiewicz and colleagues at the USF Ataxia Research Center collaborated with researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA, and from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in Los Angeles, CA.
Spinocerebellar ataxia impairs the brain and spinal cord causing progressive difficulty with coordination of movements, including walking. The uncoordinated movements, or ataxia, is a neurological symptom with no treatment or cure and can lead to serious fall-related injuries.
"This is the first clinical trial in patients with ataxia showing that nicotinic acetycholine agonists improve symptoms associated with the ability to stand straight and walk," said Dr. Zesiewicz, professor of neurology and director of the USF Ataxia Research Center. "Patients receiving varenicline could walk with more ease, with less help and faster than those in the placebo group."
The double-blind multicenter study evaluated 20 adult patients with genetically confirmed SCA3. Half the patients received 1 mg. of varenicline twice a day, and the other half received placebo. At the end of the eight-week study, patients taking varenecline performed significantly better on measures of gait, stance, rapid alternating movements and a timed 25-foot walk than those who did not. The drug was fairly well tolerated, with mild nausea being the most common side effect.
The study authors suggest that varenicline's ability to improve ataxia may be associated with the drug's ability to act at several different sites in the brain affected by nicotine.
Study co-author Lynn Wecker, PhD, a distinguished research professor at USF Health, is investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms mediating the effects of varenicline and other nicotinic agonists. Dr. Wecker and colleagues, supported by a five-year grant funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, have shown that several drugs affecting neuronal nicotinic receptors improve gait and balance in an animal model of SCA3.
Further preclinical research is needed to understand how nicotinic acetylcholine agonists improve ataxia, and larger clinical studies with more patients are needed to identify other neurodegenerative diseases that may benefit from nicotinic medications, the authors conclude.
The study was supported by the National Ataxia Foundation and the Bobby Allison Ataxia Research Center.Citation: "A randomized trial of varenicline (Chantix) for the treatment of spinocerebellar ataxia type 3,"T.A. Zesiewicz, MD, FAAN; P.E. Greenstein, MB, BCh; K.L. Sullivan, MSPH; L. Wecker, PhD; A. Miller, BS; I. Jahan, MD; R. Chen, MD and S.L. Perlman, MD, FAAN, Neurology, published online before print Feb. 8, 2012. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318247cc7a.
Anne DeLotto Baier | EurekAlert!
Inhaling air pollution-like irritant alters defensive heart-lung reflex for hypertension
19.06.2019 | University of South Florida (USF Innovation)
Nitric oxide-scavenging hydrogel developed for rheumatoid arthritis treatment
06.06.2019 | Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH)
From June 25th to 27th 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau (Germany) will be presenting a new solution for acoustic quality inspection allowing contact-free, non-destructive testing of manufactured parts and components. The method which has reached Technology Readiness Level 6 already, is currently being successfully tested in practical use together with a number of industrial partners.
Reducing machine downtime, manufacturing defects, and excessive scrap
The quality of additively manufactured components depends not only on the manufacturing process, but also on the inline process control. The process control ensures a reliable coating process because it detects deviations from the target geometry immediately. At LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be demonstrating how well bi-directional sensor technology can already be used for Laser Material Deposition (LMD) in combination with commercial optics at booth A2.431.
Fraunhofer ILT has been developing optical sensor technology specifically for production measurement technology for around 10 years. In particular, its »bd-1«...
The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified
The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...
Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.
Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...
Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.
The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...
24.06.2019 | Event News
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
24.06.2019 | Event News
24.06.2019 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
24.06.2019 | Life Sciences