Today we received word of a new clinical trial for Parkinson’s being initiated here in the UK. This trial – named the UP study – will evaluate the safety and tolerability of a compound called Ursodeoxycholic acid (or UDCA – click here to read the press release).
UDCA is clinically available medication that is used in the treatment of gall stone, but recently there has been a large body of research suggesting that this compound may also have beneficial effects in Parkinson’s.
In today’s post, we will look at what UDCA is, discuss the preclinical research exploring UDCA, and outline the structure of the new clinical trial.
How often do you consider your gallbladder?
It is one of the less appreciated organs. A pear-shaped, hollow organ located just under your liver and on the right side of your body. Its primary function is to store and concentrate your bile. What is bile you ask? Bile is a yellow-brown digestive enzyme – made and released by the liver – which helps with the digestion of fats in your small intestine (the duodenum).
One of the down sides of having a gall bladder: gallstones.
Gallstones are hardened deposits that can form in your gallbladder. About 80% of gallstones are made of cholesterol. The remaining 20% of gallstones are made of calcium salts and bilirubin. Bilirubin is the yellow pigment in bile. When the body produces too much Bilirubin or cholesterol, gallstones can develop.
Gallstones – ouch! Source: Healthline
About 10-20% of the population have gallstones (Source), but the vast majority experience no symptoms and need no treatment.
Interesting intro, but what does any of this have to do with Parkinson’s or a new clinical trial?
One of the treatments for gallstones is called UDCA. And today we found out that this compound is being clinically tested for “repurposing” as a treatment for Parkinson’s.
What is UDCA?