Scientists are Making Headway in the Treatment of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Cecilia Santostefano

Nilotinib was created to treat one of the dozens of types of leukemia, but doctors are hopeful that it will slow down the progression of two diseases of the brain.[1] Currently, there is no treatment that can delay or stop the neurodegenerative diseases known as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.[2]

The term “neurodegeneration” refers to the progressive damage of brain cells, which results in functional impairments.[3] In 2015, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center initiated a preliminary study in which they administered a small dose of nilotinib to patients with Parkinson’s disease as well as dementia.[4] This drug prompts cells to eliminate faulty parts, including the components that are associated with many brain diseases.[5] By eliminating these components, the director of the Georgetown program, Fernando Pagan, says he may be able to stop the advancement of these types of diseases. Following what appeared to be success in the preliminary trial, Georgetown planned to launch larger clinical trials for individuals with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.[6] The studies are currently enrolling patients and will be completed within the next couple of years.[7]


[1] Jon Hamilton, Cancer Drug That Might Slow Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s Headed For Bigger Tests, NPR, (Mar. 15, 2017),

[2] Id.

[3] Sally Robertson, What is Neurodegeneration? News Medical, (Jan. 21, 2015),

[4] Hamilton, supra note 1.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.