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Drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease could be given through a patch, rather than as pills
Drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease could be given through a patch, rather than as pills

Press Release - 02 August 2005

Parkinson’s patients get boost from University of Bath research

People with Parkinson’s disease could find it easier to take their medication as a result of a new research project at the University of Bath.

Scientists in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology have just received a grant from the Parkinson’s Disease Society to see if the drugs used to treat the disease could be given to patients through a patch, rather than as tablets.

Some people with Parkinson’s find it difficult to swallow and as the required dose of medication changes as the disease progresses it can be necessary to cut individual tablets in order to get the right dose.

Problems in the digestive tract of some people with Parkinson’s also mean that drugs are not always absorbed uniformly so patients may not be getting the full benefit of the medication they are prescribed.

To help overcome these problems, researchers at the University of Bath will see if a process known as iontophoresis, in which an electric field is applied to a medicine so that it can pass across the skin and into the blood stream, can be used.

If the project is successful, medication usually given to Parkinson’s patients as tablets could be delivered into them through a patch, making it easier for them to change the dosage and also improve the absorption of the mediation.

The technology is already in use in the USA where - using reverse iontophoresis - blood samples can be taken from patients with diabetes to monitor for glucose levels throughout the day.

The University of Bath researchers will be looking in close detail at the chemical composition of the most common medications used in the treatment of Parkinson’s and, in particular, the electric charge of the chemicals

“Many substances have an electric charge which is dictated by their chemical composition,” said Dr Begoña Delgado-Charro, who will be leading the project.

“The technique of iontophoresis uses this charge to make drugs pass across the skin, or make substances from blood pass the other way when it is reversed.

“We will be looking at the chemical composition of the six most commonly used drugs in the treatment of Parkinson’s to see if we might be able to use iontophoresis to deliver drugs into patients.”

Dr Kieran Breen, Director of Research and Development at the Parkinson’s Disease Society said, "We are delighted to be able to offer this grant to the scientists at the University of Bath.

“The Parkinson's Disease Society will commit over three million pounds this year to funding a broad-based research programme on prevention, treatment and cure. We look forward to hearing the results of this study as it progresses."


Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition affecting movements such as walking, talking, and writing. It is named after Dr James Parkinson (1755-1824), the London doctor who first identified Parkinson's as a specific condition.

It is estimated that as many as 120,000 people in the UK have Parkinson’s - one in 500 of the general population. Approximately 10,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson's each year in the UK.

Parkinson’s has three main symptoms; tremor, muscular rigidity or stiffness and Bradykinesia - slowness of movement.

At present there is no cure for Parkinson's, but there are a range of treatments available to help control the symptoms and maintain quality of life. The main treatment is drug treatments which help control the symptoms.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

How is Parkinson’s treated?

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