KINGSTON, R.I.-August 10, 1999 -- James Jacob of Saunderstown, R.I.,
an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Rhode Island,
has been awarded a patent for new compounds that have potential for the
treatment of brain illnesses such as Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia
and other types of psychotic disorders, without the damaging side effects
of existing medications.
These compounds, derivatives of octahydrobenzo[f]quinoline, act on specific
areas of the brain known as dopamine receptors. Some of these receptors
release dopamine, a chemical central to many brain functions; others absorb
it. Imbalances in the level of dopamine can result in the uncontrollable
jerking movements associated with Parkinson's, as well as the psychotic
thinking associated with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.
"These compounds can be used to treat psychotic disorders and Parkinson's
disease, and act as sedatives," said Jacob. "The major benefit
of these compounds are that they do not appear to cause the side effects
of medications already on the market." These might include extrapyramidal
side effects, such as unwanted movement and drooling, as well as agranulocytosis,
a precipitous drop in the white blood cell count that can be fatal if not
Further testing on these compounds is being conducted by Jacob and his
partner, Mark Froimowitz, who now works at the company which has licensed
the compound, Pharm-Eco in Massachusetts.
The next step is to find a pharmaceutical company willing to conduct
further research on the compound and to bring it to clinical trial, where
it will be tested on patients. "We're optimistic that these compounds
will continue to show promise," said Jacob.