(NC) Over the last 70 years, chloroquine has become known as one of the world’s most successful drugs for effective treatment of malaria and rheumatoid arthritis. Now, researchers are investigating its potential to slow the development of Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Jonathan Brotchie, a senior scientist at Toronto Western Hospital, has high hopes for chloroquine. It has demonstrated an ability to interact with one of the brain’s primary growth factors — a protein responsible for the health of the cells in this complex organ.

Preliminary work with laboratory mice has shown that chloroquine could stave off the biochemical damage ParkinsParkinsons Diseaseon’s inflicts on the brain. Hypothetically, this should also mitigate effects like declining motor control, Brotchie says.

Chloroquine is widely available in a generic form, however, there is little incentive for any pharmaceutical company to assume the risk and expense of exploring the potential of a product that could as easily benefit its competitors.

With the recent Porridge for Parkinson’s (Toronto) Pilot Project Grant from Parkinson Canada, Brotchie can conduct the preliminary research that could encourage one of these firms to adapt the drug to fight Parkinson’s. For this, he is grateful.

“If I can demonstrate that chloroquine works, then that’s going to de-risk Parkinson’s disease,” he says.

It is possible that chloroquine might not be the only drug that can produce the same results in the brain, but it might be the only one available now, Brotchie says. Plus, it has already been shown to be safe.

What Brotchie and his colleagues learn from working with chloroquine will lay the foundation for future research into even better medications.

“We want to do everything we can to be responsible for the development of the treatments of tomorrow,” he says.

Find more information at www.parkinson.ca.