New drug may be Parkinson’s cure

A PILL to cure Parkinson s and Alzheimer s diseases could be made available in five years, according to the Godmanchester company behind the discovery. The new drug, which is called Cogane, is being developed by Phytopharm in West Street. The firm has ann

A PILL to cure Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases could be made available in five years, according to the Godmanchester company behind the discovery.

The new drug, which is called Cogane, is being developed by Phytopharm in West Street.

The firm has announced research results which show that the drug can reverse changes in the brain. The study was funded by the Cure Parkinson's Trust.

Dr Daryl Rees, chief executive of Phytopharm, which employs 35 people, said: "One person in Bristol has fully recovered (from Parkinson's).


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"This is the Holy Grail of the research to get a single chemical to take orally. We hope that Cogane can restore normal control of movement."

It has been possible previously to inject a protein into the abdomen to reverse the kind of brain deterioration caused by Parkinson's. What Cogane will provide for the first time is a treatment that can be taken by mouth - just one pill a day.

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The company says Cogane reverses the changes in the brain by promoting the growth and connectivity of neurones. This reverses the atrophy of this area of the brain.

To date it has been tested on 60 healthy volunteers in the UK, and was reported to have no side effects.

The research started in 2001 and amounts to what Dr Rees concedes is a medical revolution. He said: "It is what we have all been working towards."

It is hoped that medical trials will begin next year and be complete within five years. Ultimately, Cogane could also cure Alzheimer's.

Dr Rees said because the drug is not complex and was based on a single chemical, it would be cheap and accessible to all. All Phytopharm products start off as being plant based, and are then made out of synthetics so they are not expensive.

The company, which has existed for 10 years, has worked all over the world. It has joined with the giant Unilever to produce hoodia, an appetite suppressant designed to stop cravings. This is based on the plant hoodia found in the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa. It works by making people think they are full.

Commenting on Cogane, Tom Isaacs, co-founder of the Cure Parkinson's Trust, said: "As a patient-led organisation, the Cure Parkinson's Trust is very excited about the potential of this product to completely restore motor function to those with the condition.

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