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Gene therapy study shows safety and statistically significant improvement in Parkinson's disease

chairman of the Neurologix Scientific Advisory Board and recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his work related to how brain cells communicate. “The significant and sustained improvements in clinical symptoms following treatment of only one side of the brain are impressive. Moreover, the PET results offer an important window into the function of the living brain in these patients, which supports a normalization of brain activity specific to the treated hemisphere.”

The study used an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector to deliver an inhibitory gene (glutamic acid decarboxylase or “GAD”) to the subthalmic nucleus (STN) of the brain. In Parkinson’s disease, STN activity is abnormally increased, largely due to a deficit in GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Increasing GAD causes more GABA to be synthesized, thus helping to calm the STN over-activity. The value of this strategy has been demonstrated in previous human studies where reducing STN activity by either electrical stimulation or lesioning can help ameliorate the symptoms of advanced Parkinson’s disease.

The Phase 1 study was not specifically designed to assess efficacy. Nonetheless, the researchers reported the clinical outcomes to be very encouraging, with treated patients showing significant improvement in both the “on” and “off” states of their illness (the time periods in which they achieve or do not realize benefit from drug therapy) beginning at three months following surgery and continuing through the end of the study. These improvements occurred predominantly on the side of the body corresponding to the side of the brain receiving treatment. Moreover, the absence of change at the earliest time point following treatment suggests that the improvement was not likely due to the surgical lesioning of the targeted brain region, as surgical approaches typically give rise to immediate, short-lasting benefit around the
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Source:JKureczka@comcast.net


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