New Advances in Treatment of Parkinsons Disease
Whilst Parkinson’s disease is generally treated with medications, physical therapy and brain surgery, there is a
promising new treatment undergoing clinical trials that could lead to a revolutionary new treatment. Gene therapy
is new as far as Parkinson’s is concerned, but it has shown no ill effects to participants in the clinical
The clinical gene therapy trials have only been small so far, because of the number of active participants, and
further trials on greater numbers of patients, and over longer periods of time, will be necessary to bear out
meaningful results. Even so, some successes have come from them.
Gene therapy researchers have said that no harm, either physical or through toxins, has occurred so far. Some
researchers had thought that many symptoms, fever for example, might follow gene therapy. It involves injecting
that part of the brain affected by the disease with billions of particles, and there had been much speculation
before clinical trials started that there would be problems.
Let’s look at Gene Therapy
Gene therapy starts with injecting a genetically engineered virus into the STN or subthalamic nucleus region of
the brain. This brain area experiences hyperactivity and causes Parkinson’s symptoms such as limb rigidity and
tremors. The genetically engineered virus pervades these brain cells, creating a chemical communication which
soothes the STN area, calming the symptoms of the disease.
Parkinsons affects both brain hemispheres, but gene therapy research concentrates on one half of the brain, for
safety reasons. The results of these one ‘sided’ gene therapy clinical trials show remarkable improvements,
that for many, continued for an extended period of time. Some over a year so far.
Although some detractors claim the results were as a result of co-incidence, given the wide variations in
symptoms among patients, much of the medical community is becoming aware of the promise shown by gene therapy.
Parkinson’s medications are still needed for those ‘down’ or ‘off’ times when symptoms are more pronounced, but
participants in the trials have discovered that their reliance on drugs has been reduced.
Gene Therapy is still in its infancy, and like all new advances in treatment of Parkinsons disease, will take
time to evolve because of the thorough testing required. As the next phase of gene therapy trials gets underway, it
is encouraging to know that some of the original Parkinson’s participants are still going strong, almost two years