Drug That Protects Dopamine Cells Eyed as Parkinson’s Treatment

A drug under development may have the ability to treat Parkinson’s disease by helping to protect cells that produce dopamine, based on experiments in mouse models.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, and Longevity Biotech, developed LBT-3627, which acts in a similar fashion to a compound known as VIP that has been shown effective in treating a variety of illnesses. However, drugs based on VIP have been plagued by its rapid degradation in the body, and it’s inability to tell the difference between two receptors it should bond to.

Researchers say LBT-3627 is different. First, it only targets one of those receptors, VPAC2, and also last longer in the body before degrading compared to VIP.

Parkinson’s disease involves the destruction of dopamine-producing cells in the  brain. Dopamine is responsible for communicating brain signals.

In a mouse model of Parkinson’s, LBT-3727 was about to up to 80% protect dopamine-producing cells, the researchers reported in The Journal of Neuroscience. The drug was benefited microglia cells in the brain, which were ultimately response for the protective effects.

A phase I trial in humans is being eyed for 2017.

“The key finding in our study was that a specific white blood cell subset was produced as a consequence of LBT-3627 treatment and provided protection of dopamine-producing nerve cells from being damaged,” senior author Howard Gendelman, a professor of pharmacology and experimental neuroscience at UNMC, said in a statement.

“The neurotoxic immune reaction was halted and LBT-3627 was able to prevent disease.”


Gendelman HE, et al. Selective VIP Receptor Agonists Facilitate Immune Transformation for Dopaminergic Neuroprotection in MPTP-Intoxicated Mice. J Neurosci. 2015; 35(50): 16463-16478.