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PET Scans Show Gene Therapy Normalizes Brain Function in Parkinson's Patients
Date:11/19/2007

MANHASSET, N.Y., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Brain scans used to track changes in a dozen patients who received an experimental gene therapy show that the treatment normalizes brain function -- and the effects are still present a year later.

Andrew Feigin, MD, and David Eidelberg, MD, of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research collaborated with Michael Kaplitt, MD, of Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan and others to deliver genes for glutamic acid decarboxylase (or GAD) into the subthalamic nucleus of the brain in Parkinson's patients. The study was designed as a phase I safety study, and the genes were delivered to only one side of the brain to reduce risk and to better assess the treatment.

A recently published study included the clinical results of the novel gene therapy trial, but this new report from the same study focuses on the power of modern brain scans to show that the gene therapy altered brain activity in a favorable way. This latest study is published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The patients only received the viral vector-carrying genes to the side of the brain that controls movement on the side of their body most affected by the disease. It was a so-called open-label study -- everybody received the gene therapy so the scientists knew that there could be a placebo effect. That is why brain scans were so critical to the experiment. Dr. Eidelberg and his colleagues pioneered the technology and used it to identify brain networks in Parkinson's disease and a number of other neurological disorders.

In Parkinson's, they identified two discrete brain networks -- one that regulates movement and another that affects cognition. The results from the brain scan study on the gene therapy patients show that only the motor networks were altered by the therapy. "This is good news," said Dr. Eidelberg, the senior investigator of the study. "You want to be sure that the treatment
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SOURCE The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
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