September 17, 1999--Hormone replacement therapy has been shown to protect women against heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer's disease. Now, researchers at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center have begun a clinical trial to determine if estrogen also improves the effectiveness of drugs used to treat Parkinson's patients.
Currently the most common treatment for Parkinson's patients is a daily regimen of the drug Levodopa. While many patients benefit from consistent use of Levodopa, the effects of the drug wear off after two or three hours, creating a "roller coaster" effect. Recently, a drug called Mirapex has proven effective at leveling these ups and downs, and preliminary information suggests hormone replacement therapy can enhance these effects.
Dr. Aikaterini Kompoliti, a neurologist at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, is heading a team of researchers investigating whether estrogen can extend this period of effectiveness and further smooth out the ups and downs caused by Levodopa.
Rush is one of two medical centers taking part in this double-blind, placebo trial that will study 36 patients. The other center is the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Parkinson's occurs when the brain cannot produce enough dopamine, causing patients to lose the ability to control their own movements. Levodopa and Mirapex are dopamine agonists that work by fooling the brain into thinking that dopamine exists. When effective, these medications allow patients to regain some control over their motor functions.
"Our hypothesis is that estrogen will work with the Mirapex and Levodopa to
increase and enhance the effectiveness of both drugs," said Kompoliti.
Each medical center in the trial will treat 18 patients who are already on
Levodopa: six will be men on Levodopa; six will be post-menopausal women on
Levodopa, but not estrogen; and six will be post-menopausal w
Contact: Chris Martin
Rush University Medical Center