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Gene therapy helps Parkinson's sufferers

28th September 2005

A scientific review has claimed a new gene therapy technique is safe and effective at holding back the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

The call comes after a study of 12 advanced Parkinson's patients who had been treated with the technique for the past two years, found a gradual slowing of symptoms.

The American medical investigators found that the patients had a 27 per cent improvement in symptoms, and that brain scans also revealed that the treatment was working.

During treatment, genes (which make the chemical GABA) are packed into non-infectious viruses and then are injected into a specific brain region that regulates dopamine.

Parkinson's sufferers have dopamine deficiency and this is the reason for their decreased ability to move fluently.

The idea behind the therapy is to inject the GABA-filled cells so the brain uses these instead of the dopamine neurons to help control movement.

The gene therapy technique was developed by New Jersey-based company Neurologix.