NEW YORK, N.Y. and HAIFA, Israel, January 13, 2003 — A study conducted on 404 patients at several U.S. sites has determined that a new drug called Rasagiline effectively treats early-stage Parkinson’s disease. The study was reported in the December Archives of Neurology.
“These findings are especially important since hopes for treating Parkinson’s with fetal cells were recently dashed,” said Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Professor Moussa Youdim, who developed Rasagiline with Prof. John Finberg of the Department of Pharmacology at the Technion.
The study was conducted as part of the clinical trials for FDA approval. Rasagiline is now in the last stage of the approval process with a decision expected later this year. Teva Pharmaceuticals will then market the new drug.
Research participants were randomized in the double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Participants were given 1 or 2 milligrams a day for one week, followed by a 25-week maintenance period.
The treatment’s effectiveness was measured by Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDR) and compared with the control group that received a placebo. The group that received 1 milligram showed an improvement of 4.2 UPDR units on average. Those who received 2 milligrams showed an improvement of 3.56 UPDR units.
The report called for further study to evaluate Rasagiline’s long-term effects on the progression of the disease. This is now in progress.
Prof. Youdim heads the Eve Topf Neuro-Degenerative Disease Research and Teaching Center at the Faculty of Medicine at the Technion, where he develops a variety of drugs for neurodegenerative diseases. As early as 1975, Prof. Youdim and colleagues introduced I-Deprenyl (Selegiline), a drug that has been shown to slow the progress of Parkinson’s disease.