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Leukemia Drug Linked to Atherosclerosis, Approved for Treating Parkinson’s Disease

Tasigna, which also goes by the name nilotinib, is a medication used to treat patients with a specific type of incessant, curable form of leukemia. Many consider it as a last-resort treatment because it is used after other treatment has been unsuccessful.

What is Chromosome-positive Chronic Myeloid Leukemia?

Chromosome-positive Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) is a type of cancer. It’s curable but can become chronic if not treated properly. It causes a person’s bone marrow to produce too many white blood cells.

Tasigna is used to treat CML by restraining or inhibiting the activation and growth of cancer cells. It prevents cells from forming and reduces the risk of them damaging healthy cells.

The drug is effective, but there is a downside: researchers have linked its use to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis causes plaque to develop in the arteries and can lead to the development of a variety of other conditions, including:

  • Carotid Artery Disease
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Peripheral Artery Disease
  • Coronary Heart Disease

Tasigna is known to trigger a number of mild to moderate side effects, including skin rashes, fatigue, lowered blood count, constipation and diarrhea, and muscle and joint pain. Most patients find these side effects tolerable. In some cases, though, the medication can also lead to serious health concerns, including blood in the urine, brain bleeding, liver damage, and kidney failure. Some of these are linked to atherosclerosis.

Some patients who were given Tasigna have taken legal action and are seeking compensation for the complications they suffered as a result of using the drug. Their lawsuits claim that doctors and patients reported their side effects to the company, but the manufacturer of Tasigna refused to reveal the most risks associated with the drug.

Researchers Identify Benefits of Using Tasigna to Treat Parkinson’s Disease

Now, researchers have determined that Tasigna could be effective for treating Parkinson’s disease (PD). This means a new group of people are likely to be exposed to the potential complications linked to the drug.

Researchers evaluated the effect of one dose of Tasigna in patients with PD due to the drug’s ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and its ability to reduce inflammation. It has also been shown to reduce levels of a toxic protein that interferes with the brain’s use of dopamine stored in vessels that may control movement.

The results of the first phase in the two-phase study were published in the Pharmacology Research & Perspectives and explained that Tasigna boosted dopamine levels in study participants’ brains. It also appeared to increase the ability of immune cells in the brain to reduce the flow of “misshapen” protein produced by damaged neurons, which enabled normal alpha-synuclein to release stored dopamine.

PD is the second-most common neurodegenerative disorder that leads to motor and non-motor decline.

Despite the positive effects of Tasigna, patients are entitled to know the risks involved in using medication. Without transparency, it’s impossible for someone to determine if the risk outweighs the reward of a drug.

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