In 2017, a research report suggested that people taking the asthma treatment Salbutamol had a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s. In addition, that same study suggested that another medication called Propranolol – which is used for hypertension/high blood pressure – increased ones risk of developing Parkinson’s.
Both drugs work via a molecule called the Beta2 adrenoreceptor. The study caused a lot of excitement, and clinical studies were even proposed.
Now, however, new research suggests that these associations may not actually exist and those clinical trial plans will be need to be put on standby.
In today’s post we will discuss what the Beta2 adrenoreceptor is, how these two drugs (Salbutamol and Propranolol) affect it, and look at what the new results suggest.
Saul Goodman. Source: Amc
There is a popular show on Netflix called ‘Better call Saul’ (the title of this post is a play on the name).
It chronicles the life of a lawyer – named Saul Goodman – who struggles to make his way in the grey world of the law profession. He fights to survive by taking the information he has, and using it to plead his cases. But sometimes the original pieces of information he is dealing with are not always what they appear to be.
A similar situation faces researchers the world over.
Every day new information is reported. And this process is unrelenting. It simply never stops.
For Parkinson’s research alone, every day there is about 20 new research reports (approximately 120 per week).
But determining what is ‘usable’ information relies on independent replication. And sometimes efforts to validate a new finding fail to reproduce the initially reported results.
An example of this has occurred recently in the world of Parkinson’s research, with some rather large implications.
At the end of each year, it is a useful practise to review the triumphs (and failures) of the past 12 months. It is an exercise of putting everything into perspective.
2017 has been an incredible year for Parkinson’s research.
And while I appreciate that statements like that will not bring much comfort to those living with the condition, it is still important to consider and appreciate what has been achieved over the last 12 months.
In this post, we will try to provide a summary of the Parkinson’s-related research that has taken place in 2017 (Be warned: this is a VERY long post!)
The number of research reports and clinical trial studies per year since 1817
As everyone in the Parkinson’s community is aware, in 2017 we were observing the 200th anniversary of the first description of the condition by James Parkinson (1817). But what a lot of people fail to appreciate is how little research was actually done on the condition during the first 180 years of that period.
The graphs above highlight the number of Parkinson’s-related research reports published (top graph) and the number of clinical study reports published (bottom graph) during each of the last 200 years (according to the online research search engine Pubmed – as determined by searching for the term “Parkinson’s“).
PLEASE NOTE, however, that of the approximately 97,000 “Parkinson’s“-related research reports published during the last 200 years, just under 74,000 of them have been published in the last 20 years.
That means that 3/4 of all the published research on Parkinson’s has been conducted in just the last 2 decades.
And a huge chunk of that (almost 10% – 7321 publications) has been done in 2017 only.
So what happened in 2017? Continue reading