Professor Janusz Lipski
Department of Physiology, University of Auckland
Preclinical efficacy of Uptake-2 blockers in augmenting dopamine production from levodopa: implications for treatment of Parkinson’s disease
Investigating the potential improvement of the effectiveness of a Parkinson’s disease drug by inhibiting a mechanism in a rat brain model
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder which affects 1-2% of people older than 65 in New Zealand and worldwide, leading to numerous symptoms including tremor in the hands, slowness of movement, stiff muscles and slurred speech. The most widely prescribed treatment relies on levodopa, a drug which replenishes a chemical dopamine lost in the course of the disease. However, after prolonged use, the effects of the drug become progressively shorter, prompting doctors to increase the dosage. Unfortunately, this frequently leads to serious, undesirable side effects. Professor Lipski’s study aims to improve the effectiveness of levodopa treatment by inhibiting a recently discovered mechanism which inactivates dopamine. This will be studied in a rat model. If successful, this strategy will inform clinical administration of levodopa doses with the aim of using lower doses for a longer period of time, hopefully minimising the occurrence of side-effects while maintaining therapeutic effectiveness of the drug. Professor Lipski’s ultimate goal is to reduce the suffering and improve quality of life of those affected by Parkinson’s disease.