The drug miglustat appears to stabilize the swallowing problems that occur in children and adolescents with Niemann-Pick type C1 (NPC1), a rare and ultimately fatal neurological disease, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The authors conclude that the drug could slow the deterioration of swallowing function in NPC1 cases and decrease the risk of pneumonia resulting from aspiration, or inhaling food or drink. Aspiration pneumonia accounts for roughly 2 out of 3 deaths in people with NPC1.
The study was conducted by Forbes D. Porter, M.D., Ph.D., of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and colleague in the NIH Clinical Center. It appears in the JAMA Neurology.
NPC1 is a rare genetic disorder that causes a progressive decline in neurological and cognitive functions. Although miglustat is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat NPC1, the drug is thought to stabilize the neurological deterioration seen in the disease and is frequently prescribed to treat it. Previous studies have suggested that by slowing this neurological deterioration, miglustat can stabilize swallowing ability. However, these studies have not documented any specific swallowing improvements for patients.
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