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Parkinsonís progress

Sun, 24th Jun 2007

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A study in the latest edition of the Lancet suggests that a new gene therapy might be a safe and effective way to stave off the symptoms of Parkinsonís disease.  A dozen patients with advanced Parkinsonís have been treated over three years in the small-scale trial, led by Andrew Feigin of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New York. Brain

The treatment involves an injection of a virus that has been modified to carry the gene for a protein called GAD, which stands for glutamic acid decarboxylase.  This protein is vital for producing a neurotransmitter molecule in the brain called GABA, which is faulty in Parkinsonís disease.  Adding extra GAD helps to boost the levels of GABA, which helps to damp down the hyperactivity in the brain that causes the symptoms of the illness.  After treatment, patients had a nearly 30% improvement in symptoms, as detected by brain scans.

Although the treatment canít help to change the underlying disease, it could help to stave off the symptoms of Parkinsonís disease, which include tremors, and stiffness.  The researchers are now planning  much larger placebo-controlled clinical trial, to see how effective their new treatment is.

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