An innovative Parkinson's disease medication that is more efficient than the currently available medicine is being developed by researchers at the University of Porto's Faculty of Sciences (FCUP). According to the FCUP, as revealed in a statement on the 11 April, which marks the World Parkinson's Disease Awareness Day, the new drug is expected to have "fewer side effects than those currently used.”

"However, over the years, these medicines lose effectiveness, making it necessary to administer higher doses, which results in side effects that, in many cases, can even exacerbate the symptoms of the disease", the FCUP has emphasised. Parkinson's disease is brought on by the death of neurons that generate dopamine, a crucial neurotransmitter involved in many physiological functions including memory, emotion, and motor control.

Making melanostatin "a drug candidate, with greater biological stability and improved gastrointestinal absorption" is the goal the researchers are aiming for. Melanostatin was found in the 1970s and is a naturally occurring substance in the body and clinical investigations have demonstrated its anti-Parkinson efficacy.

The statement highlights that “one of the three amino acids that make up this substance [melanostatin] can be modified at a structural level without harming the modulating activity of dopamine receptors,” according to researcher Ivo Dias of the Associated Laboratory for Green Chemistry (LAQV-REQUIMTE) at FCUP. This means that the recent findings by FCUP “are not only more efficient but also do not present toxicity in neuronal cells”.