A June 2016 study looked at controversial leukemia treatment Tasigna (nilotinib) to measure its effect on Parkinson’s symptoms. According to the study, Tasigna may be an effective therapeutic strategy to mitigate the disease’s effects. As a result, Tasigna’s now in phase II clinical trials to test its efficacy on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s patients.
Many medical experts believe extending Tasigna’s leukemia treatment approval to also include Parkinson’s disease would be a major a win. But what some overlook is the leukemia treatment drug’s side effects — which countless Tasigna patients already experience. In addition, some doctors feel that this one limited study is over-hyped by the media due to Tasigna’s health risks. So what should those newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s expect from this news?
Well, nothing. At least… not yet.
How Leukemia Treatment Tasigna Works
Tasigna is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that specifically targets the BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase enzyme. This unique protein spurs rapid cancer-cell growth in patients with Philadelphia-positive Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (Ph+ CML). Moussa’s initial study enrolled 12 participants with Lewy Bodies. (Lewy Bodies are abnormal protein aggregates that develop inside nerve cells in Parkinson’s as well as dementia patients.) Doctors diagnosed each patient with either Parkinson’s or dementia prior to enrolling them in the study. Doctors randomized study subjects to receive either 150 or 300 mg of Tasigna in its generic form, called nilotinib.
It’s the first study that treats advanced Parkinson’s with a TKI drug normally used for chronic myeloid leukemia. According to researchers, the results “tentatively suggest that low doses of nilotinib are relatively safe in subjects with advanced PD.”
How the Media Misinterpreted Moussa’s Study Results
While media reports suggested that Tasigna could potentially cure Parkinson’s, the study’s researchers disagreed. In fact, the study data suggests it may be safe to proceed with more leukemia treatment research on Parkinson’s patients. Georgetown University announced their Tasigna phase II clinical trial preparations back in February 2017 for treating Parkinson’s patients. This is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nilotinib study. Doctors will report back on the drug’s safety and efficacy for PD patients.
Still, one study producing encouraging results does not necessarily guarantee another clinical trial will prove equally successful. Understanding PD is, without question, an important medical endeavor. However, many leukemia treatment patients who developed detrimental health complications while taking Tasigna are less enthusiastic about the latest study. They worry too many people see Tasigna as a potential “miracle drug” for dementia-related conditions. Any individual who fails to see that every drug carries potential side effect risks does so at their own peril.
Underlying Issues for Moussa’s Study Glossed Over
While many news sources shared excitement about the study’s findings, researchers appeared more cautious. As Moussa’s study concludes, “This small proof-of-concept study lacks a placebo group and participants were not homogenous.” Because the study only included 12 participants, there were stark baseline differences among the test subject groups. Moussa’s study didn’t include a control group, so Tasigna could have had a placebo effect on certain participants. This issue also limits both the biomarker and clinical data interpretations.
In other words, recently diagnosed Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s patients should remain cautiously optimistic. In an ideal world, researchers will find a cure for these degenerative brain diseases sooner than later. Right now, we know almost nothing about Tasigna’s effects on patients suffering from advanced cognitive decline. That said, we’re keeping a hopeful eye out for the Georgetown study’s results. Until then, we urge caution for family members hoping that leukemia treatment Tasigna could be the answer to their prayers.
What Tasigna Patients Who Developed Serious Heart Problems Can Do
If you had a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular issues with leukemia treatment Tasigna, we want to help you. To see if you may qualify for a cash settlement from the manufacturer, get your free compensation evaluation online now. Once you’ve submitted your story to us, an experienced Tasigna advocate will call to review your compensation options by phone.
Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.