Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, affecting 1.5 million people in the US alone. In the coming year, 25,000 patients in the US will die as a direct result of PD and another 60,000 people will learn that they have it.
PD is best known for the motor symptoms of the disease, that is altered posture, rigidity, shuffling gait and tremor. These symptoms occur because the brainstem gets clogged up with a protein called alpha synuclein (αS) and stops sending dopaminergic signals to the basal ganglia, leading to cell damage of the basal ganglia. Most patients are able to manage their motor symptoms by taking dopamine and drugs that mimic it, or help raise its levels in the brain.
We have known for many years that people who develop PD often have a history of bowel issues, primarily constipation, a problem that often has been present for many years before the motor-related symptoms of PD appear. In fact, at least 60% to 80% of PD patients suffer from such constipation. Scientists now believe that constipation is the earliest manifestation of the disease. Soon thereafter, a series of other symptoms will slowly develop as various nerves begin to deteriorate; these include sleep disturbance, mood changes, voice changes, salivation, swallowing difficulties, fatigue, cognitive loss and loss of smell.
The non-motor symptoms of PD are responsible for much of the economic burden and reduced quality-of-life for PD patients. There is currently no treatment specifically for the non-motor symptoms of PD. Enterin is developing what we hope to be the first such treatment.
Other Neurodegenerative Diseases
Not surprisingly, there has been a growing body of research showing the influence of the gut-brain axis on a number of neurodegenerative diseases, not only PD. In fact, as with PD, constipation and sleep disturbance affect as many as 80% of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Multiple System Atrophy, and even children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
In addition to our clinical assessment of ENT-001 in Parkinson’s Disease, Enterin is also evaluating ENT-001 and similar compounds for the treatment of constipation and other related disturbances in a variety of other conditions, including Autism Spectrum Disorder.