Creatine. It's a popular supplement used by athletes to enhance performance and build muscle. And it soon may be the one thing that will slow the progression of Parkinson's disease.
"Some of the brain cells die in Parkinson's disease. And one of our hopes is that creatine or the other agents that will be studied over time will protect the brain cells somehow by perhaps protecting their energy," says Sparrow Hospital neurologist Dr. Glen Ackerman.
"Early on in the stages of Parkinson's disease we have pretty good drugs to manage the symptoms. But the problem is as the disease gets worse the symptoms become more and more unmanageable," says Dr. John Goudreau of the MSU Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology.
A nationwide study, which began this week, will test the effectiveness of c
reatine to slow the advancement of the disease. Michigan State is one of more than 50 sites to be part of the clinical trial.
Peter Hasbrook is living with Parkinson's. He says, "We all know that the disease continues to progress. And now that there's something that could perhaps slow the progression of that disease, it's exciting for those of us who had to look forward perhaps to being in a wheelchair or not being able to function."
During the study each participant will consume large amounts of creatine everyday for five years.
"I want to caution people that they shouldn't rush out to the health food store and buy small amounts of creatine and think it's going to directly do something for their Parkinson's disease," says Dr. Goudreau.
Instead doctors encourage those suffering from the illness to volunteer for the study.
"If we could slow a disorder early on, then it would keep people working longer, vacationing longer, and having a better quality of life," says Dr. Ackerman.
If you'd like more information or to see if you qualify for the study call 1-800-352-9424 or 517-353-8122 ext. 126.