New Studies Give Hope to Parkinson's Patients

Gene therapy, drug could halt disease
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2007 4:25 AM CDT
Nathan Klein of Port Washington, N.Y., left, poses for a portrait with Dr. Michael Kaplitt, of Weill Cornell Medical College, Thursday, June 21, 2007, in New York. Klein, a 59-year-old freelance television...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Two new experimental treatments for Parkinson's could stop the progress of the devastating disease and allay its symptoms, researchers say. A new study shows gene therapy was successful in boosting production of an enzyme that calms overactive neurons, reducing the jittery effects of the brain disorder.

In a separate study, a new drug shielded fruit-fly neurons from a destructive Parkinson's enzyme. Researchers say the gene therapy had no side effects and staved off symptoms for as long as four years. Neither treatment is a cure, however, and both are a long way from FDA approval: Docs only tested gene therapy on 11 patients, while the drug hasn't been given to a single human.