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Parkinson's researchers: Surgery can halt cell loss

Parkinson's researchers: Surgery can halt cell loss
3rd September 2008

A surgical technique known as deep-brain stimulation halts the loss of dopamine-cells in animals, new US research suggests.

The findings could influence the timing of when different treatments are administered to Parkinson's patients, as deep-brain stimulation is currently often seen only as a last resort, according to researchers from the Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cincinatti (UC) and University Hospital.

Importantly, the scientists say they have discovered clues as to why the technique works – having identified that it boosted the production of an important protein which acts as a growth-promoting chemical.

Dr Caryl Sortwell, associate professor of neurology at UC and the study's lead investigator, stated that the data showing the potential efficacy of deep-brain stimulation essentially confirmed and built upon previous findings.

She said that finding the mechanism which underpins the process was "even more critical", adding: "We now know not only that it works, we also are beginning to understand how it is working."

Last week, a UK-based team of scientists said it had made an important breakthrough in its work to halt the progression of Parkinson's disease.

The University of Nottingham researchers revealed they had genetically produced the first ever mouse model with the type of brain degeneration seen in the condition - and suggested it would enable them to investigate how cell deterioration takes place.

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