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Breakthrough in Parkinson's therapy

Breakthrough in Parkinson's therapy
20th November 2007

The first gene-based therapy for Parkinson's disease has proven effective after initial brain scans of patients.

In the on-going trials, patients' brains were injected with a harmless, genetically modified virus to dampen down the overactive nerve cells which interfere with Parkinson's sufferers' movement control.

Patients showed signs of progress one month after treatment, while three to six months later they showed an average of 30 per cent improvement in their movement.

Speaking to the Guardian, Dr David Eidelberg, who led the study at the New York University School of Medicine, said: "These scans show that the treatment corrects abnormal activity in the brain, and we would only see those changes if the therapy was working."

There are approximately 120,000 people with Parkinson's disease in the UK with about 10,000 new cases being diagnosed every year.

It normally occurs in those over 50 years of age, with symptoms including the inability to walk and eat, long periods of motionless and body tremors.

A second larger trial of the gene therapy will begin in the upcoming months. Researchers hope that in the future the procedure could be developed to treat other diseases such as epilepsy.

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