They work by binding to the receptor of a cell, so triggering a response, and often mimicking the actions of a naturally occurring substance.
But there's something wrong with the science. The agonist appetite suppressant fenfluramine has been banned, while the agonists for migraine have long been suspected of causing heart disease. We assume ecstasy needs no further introduction.
Now researchers have discovered that two agonists for Parkinson's disease - Celance (pergolide) and Cabaser (cabergoline) - also cause serious heart disease that affects the heart's valves.
Compared with placebo, the drugs increased the risk of valvular heart disease from between five and seven times.
(Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 2006; 356: 29-38).
E-news broadcast 18 January 2007 No.326 [Subscribe]