The active ingredient in an over-the-counter skin cream might do more than prevent wrinkles. Scientists have discovered that the drug, called kinetin, also slows or stops the effects of Parkinson’s disease on brain cells.
Scientists identified the link through biochemical and cellular studies, but the research team is now testing the drug in animal models of Parkinson’s. The research is published in the August 15, 2013 issue of the journal Cell.
“Kinetin is a great molecule to pursue because it’s already sold in drugstores as a topical anti-wrinkle cream,” says HHMI investigator Kevan Shokat of the University of California, San Francisco. “So it’s a drug we know has been in people and is safe.”
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease that causes the death of neurons in the brain. Initially, the disease affects one’s movement and causes tremors, difficulty walking, and slurred speech. Later stages of the disease can cause dementia and broader health problems. In 2004, researchers studying an Italian family with a high prevalence of early-onset Parkinson’s disease discovered mutations in a protein called PINK1 associated with the inherited form of the disease.
Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education