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Clinical Trial to Examine Creatine as Parkinson's Treatment

Substance may act as antioxidant, preventing damage to brain cells

THURSDAY, March 22, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- A large-scale clinical trial to determine whether the nutritional supplement creatine can slow the progression of Parkinson's disease is expected to be launched Thursday by the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study will be conducted at 51 medical centers in the United States and in Canada, and will include 1,720 people with early-stage Parkinson's disease.

The study will enroll people who've been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease within the past five years and who have been treated for two years or less with drugs that increase levels of dopamine in the brain. Many symptoms of Parkinson's disease are due to a loss of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control movement.

Creatine is not approved for treatment of Parkinson's disease or any other condition, but it's widely believed that it improves exercise performance. Studies have suggested that creatine can improve the function of mitochondria, which produce energy inside cells. There's also some indication that creatine may act as an antioxidant that prevents damage from compounds that are harmful to brain cells.

"This study is an important step toward developing a therapy that could change the course of this devastating disease," NIH Director Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni said in a prepared statement. "The goal is to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson's for a longer period of time than is possible with existing therapies."

Parkinson's disease, which affects at least 1 million people in the United States, is a degenerative brain disorder that causes symptoms such as tremors, stiff muscles and slow movement. While certain drugs can reduce symptoms of Parkinson's disease, there are no proven treatments that slow the progression of the disease.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about this clinical trial.

SOURCE: U.S. National Institutes of Health, news release, March 22, 2007
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