Weight loss linked to experimental Parkinson's therapy

An experimental Parkinson's therapy that saves cells from the disease's ravages may also cause weight loss, depending on its target area in the brain, researchers say.

In a study at the University of Florida, scientists found that when they gave the therapy, known as GDNF or glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor, to two different locations in rats, one area promoted twice the weight loss of the other.

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The concern is that weight loss occurs no matter which target locations the scientists used, but lead author Ron Mandel says the "good news for Parkinson's patients is that the finding doesn't discredit the current target" for the therapy, and it is not a side effect that will eliminate the therapy as an option for those suffering from the disease.

More research is expected, Mandel, to determine the proper placement of the therapy to ensure that the rapid weight loss doesn't cause additional health problems for patients.

The study also points to the potential for development of the therapy as an anti-obesity medication, targeting the brain's activity rather than metabolic function to promote weight loss.

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