Gene Therapy for Parkinson's Delivers Major Results

Researchers find dramatic improvement
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2007 4:47 AM CST
Actor Michael J. Fox, who is afflicted with Parkinson's Disease, gestures during an address to the Bio International Convention in Boston, Monday, May 7, 2007. Fox appealed to scientists and investors...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – New evidence indicates that the first gene therapy for Parkinson's disease has achieved measurable success. Brain scans of patients receiving the treatment confirmed significant changes, supporting earlier anecdotal accounts of 65% improvements in mobility and other gains, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Doctors participating in the study injected a virus modified with human DNA into one side of the patients' brains, leaving the other untreated to serve as a control. The therapy boosted levels of a chemical that calms overexcited brain cells in the treated side of the brain, while the untreated side showed no change. "It is the first solid evidence of benefit from gene therapy," said one researcher.