DURHAM, N.C., Aug. 1 (UPI) -- U.S. medical researchers say they've discovered amphetamines can reverse the symptoms of Parkinson's disease in mice with an acute form of the condition.
The researchers at the Duke University Medical Center cautioned their findings in animals do not suggest Parkinson's disease patients should find relief by taking amphetamines, which are drugs that can be abused and have many dangerous side effects.
Rather, the findings indicate drugs with similar chemical attributes might offer useful alternatives to current therapies, the researchers said.
The study also showed amphetamines -- normally thought to act by increasing dopamine concentrations in the brain -- correct the behavioral abnormalities associated with Parkinson's in mice devoid of the brain messenger.
Parkinson's disease stems from the degeneration of neurons in a brain region that controls movement. That degeneration, in turn, leads to a shortage of the chemical messenger dopamine.
The finding that amphetamines can alter movement independently of dopamine opens new directions in the search for prospective anti-Parkinson's drugs, the researchers said.
The team reports its findings in the August issue of Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology.