World War II Antidote may Reverse Damage from Parkinson’s Disease

Skeletal formula and ball and stick model of dimercaprol Molecule

Dimercaprol Molecule

Dimercaprol, a drug that was used as an antidote for chemical attacks during World War II, may be able to reverse the damage from Parkinson’s disease.  According to a report published December 4, 2018 in the Purdue University Research Foundation News, researchers from Purdue University discovered that Dimercaprol can safely and effectively remove a neurotoxic (poisonous to the brain) substance called acrolein from the brains of rats. Acrolein has been shown to increase pain and worsen symptoms in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Dimercaprol is today used mainly for treating acute poisoning by heavy metals such as lead and arsenic.

Earlier Study Showed Dimercaprol was able to Treat Rats with Spinal Cord Injuries

An earlier study by the same researchers that was published March 16, 2017 in the Journal of Neurochemistry showed that Dimercaprol could treat rats with spinal cord injuries by removing acrolein from their bodies.

Parkinson’s Disease (PD)

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the United States after Alzheimer’s and is characterized by a constant and progressive loss of brain cells. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimate that half a million people in the United States are afflicted with Parkinson’s disease and about 50,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. Aging is a major risk factor for Parkinson’s disease and it usually develops in most people around age 60. However, about 2-5% of people with PD are early onset cases that begin before age 50. Parkinson’s disease is 50% more common in men than women. Exposure to pesticides and other toxic substances has also been shown to be a risk factor for getting Parkinson’s disease.

Characteristics of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease leads to tremors, rigidity, swallowing and chewing problems, difficulty in smelling things, speaking problems, motor problems like difficulty in walking and with balance, sleep disorders, constipation and urinary problems. People with Parkinson’s may also suffer from fatigue, depression, mental and behavioral problems and memory loss. Some people with Parkinson’s have a peculiar kind of hunched over shuffling walk called the Parkinsonian Gait. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, it leads to more and more disabilities and impacts greatly on the quality of life and it may finally become difficult to carry out even the most basic day-to-day activities.

Most Drugs only Treat Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease

Most drugs for treating Parkinson’s disease deal mainly with trying to alleviate symptoms by attempting to replace levodopa and norepinephrine that become depleted in the brains of people with PD. Until now no cure has been found or a way to stop the downhill progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Dimercaprol not only Reduced Symptoms of Parkinson’s but Reversed Damage

By removing the toxic acrolein from the brain, Dimercaprol was able to significantly reverse damage from the disease rather than just treat symptoms. The researchers led by Dr, Ryi Shi hope to be able to begin human clinical trials in the near future, as the drug has already been approved for use in humans by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They believe that Dimercaprol may offer a real opportunity to reverse the damage from Parkinson’s disease and to successfully treat it. Dr. Ryi Shi is a professor of neuroscience and biomedical engineering in Purdue University’s Department of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. You can view a video showing how Dimercaprol works.


SpeechVive is another company affiliated with Purdue University that helps patients with Parkinson’s disease to speak more loudly, slowly and clearly. This treatment works by playing background sounds in the ear of a person with Parkinson’s disease, while they are talking. The sounds shut off as soon as the person stops talking.

Long-Term Care

As Parkinson’s disease advances, there may come a time when it is necessary to find long-term solutions like skilled nursing care. The Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in scenic Galloway Township, New Jersey offers long-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing care and is prepared to help people suffering with Parkinson’s disease. Their excellent team has physical, occupational and speech therapists and they are in a beautiful setting surrounded by eight acres of woods and landscaped gardens.


This drug Dimercaprol was safely and effectively able to reverse the damage caused by Parkinson’s disease by removing the toxic substance acrolein from the brains of rats. Hopefully, Dimercaprol will also be able to prevent the progressive degeneration of the disease in humans.

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