Possibly plenty, according to research published in Neurology, September 2015.
There are several genetic forms of Parkinson’s, which are usually seen in patients with very young onset of disease. An autosomal dominant form, meaning that each child of an affected parent has a 50% chance of having the gene termed LRRK2 affects function in the mitochondria. This is the organelle in the cell that generates energy.
Using a cell culture-based technique, researchers tested about 1000 approved drugs and 500 naturally occurring compounds to see if they improved the function of this organelle. They found that there is a drug that is approved for treatment of primary biliary cirrhosis, a disorder of the liver, that has a beneficial effect. It is termed UDCA (ursodeoxycholic acid).
This drug enters the brain, and safety and tolerability studies in patients with Parkinson’s will very likely proceed. It is an entirely new method of treating Parkinson’s.