Baylor College of Medicine is one of 52 sites across the United States and Canada testing the ability of the investigational drug creatine to slow the clinical decline associated with Parkinson's disease.

A naturally occurring substance produced by the body, creatine is commonly used as an over-the-counter weight-training supplement. The study in which BCM is involved is designed to determine if it can slow the progression of Parkinson's disease.

In this study, some of the patients will take creatine and others will take a sugar pill, or placebo. Then doctors will follow the progress of participants for a minimum of five years. They will perform physical exams on them, test their thinking ability as well as evaluate their mood and quality of life. The results for each group will be compared.

Joohi Jimenez-Shahed, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at BCM, will lead the local creatine study.

In patients with Parkinson's disease, brain cells or neurons that produce a chemical called dopamine die off gradually. Without enough dopamine, patients experience symptoms such as tremors, muscle rigidity, balance problems and slowness. Currently doctors try to ease patients' symptoms by treating the disease with drugs that boost the amount of dopamine or help the brain to make the best use of the dopamine that is present.

Patients diagnosed with Parkinson's disease within the last five years and who are being treated for the disease may be eligible for the study. For more information, contact Sharon Halton at 713-798-3974.