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Ecstasy shows promise as healer

MDMA, a popular club drug, may restore Parkinson's-related neural damage

Only a few years ago, Maryland researchers made national headlines with the news that the drug Ecstasy could cause Parkinson's disease.

Now an Ohio researcher has shown how the club drug may actually lead to a way to restore the parts of the brain that deteriorate in Parkinson's, the neurological disorder that makes hands unsteady, movement stiff, walking difficult, and even erase facial expression.

While the Maryland study was withdrawn when scientists realized they used the wrong drug, other labs were discovering Ecstasy could ease Parkinson's symptoms in animals.

Jack Lipton, professor of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati, told a gathering at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Atlanta last week that Ecstasy's impact may go beyond a reduction of symptoms. His research found Ecstasy actually increased the survival of neurons in rat fetal brain cells by 70 percent to 300 percent.

Most important for Parkinson's patients, these long-lived neurons are the same ones that deteriorate in Parkinson's - those that transmit the neurochemical dopamine. Dopamine is famous for its role in feelings of pleasure, but it also plays an important role in movement.

"We're really excited about this,'' said Mr. Lipton. "Who would have thought you could take a drug that's abused, and find therapeutic properties?''

Contact Jenni Laidman at: or 419-724-6507.

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Tags : MDMA ecstasy parkinson's
Posted on: 2006-10-24 21:30:21