A preclinical study that used fruit flies reveals that Folinic acid shows potential treatment applications for early-onset Parkinson’s disease, in April 2017.
Folic acid is known to be an adjuvant medication for bowel cancer, however has been proved to be neuroprotective in a fly model of Parkinson’s disease associated with pink1 mutations. Such mutations causes accumulation of impaired mitochondria and death of dopaminergic neurons. It is also linked to the onset of Parkinson’s disease, also leading to movement anomalies.
“Parkinson’s disease is a disabling disorder for which no cure is yet available; further, after dopaminergic neurons are lost, only a few palliative treatment options for Parkinson’s symptoms are available. Therefore, treatments that either prevent or delay the onset of the disease at an early stage are needed.” said Luís Miguel Martins, senior author of the study. “
Folinic acid is usually administered orally or intravenously, as a adjuvant drug for cancer treatment.
Researchers used fruit flies who had the mutated gene, and fed them with a diet rich in folinic acid during the early stages of fly adulthood rescued mitochondrial activity, this protected the dopaminergic neurons.
They concluded that a folinic acid-enriched diet would therefore delay or prevent the neuronal loss for patients with PINK1 mutations and may improve other diseases linked to mitochondrial defects.
“The drug safety risk is low, and drug development for repurposing folinic acid as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease would be faster than for a novel drug. With this in mind, it seems worthwhile to further test the supplementation of folinic acid in clinical trials with human participants as a potential preventative or palliative therapeutic for [Parkinson’s disease] and to expand the repertoire of treatment options,” said Martins to sum up the findings of the study.