An experimental gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease has shown promising results – it is reported to normalise brain function in patients and the positive effects are still present a year later.
US scientists treated 12 patients with a virus genetically modified to carry a human gene which dampens down the nerve cells over-excited by Parkinson's.
The research, led by scientists from the University of New York, delivered the gene only to one side of the brain - that which controls movement on the side of the body most affected by Parkinson's - to reduce the potential risk.
Position emission tomography (PET) scans were performed before the surgery and repeated six months later and then again one year after the surgery. The motor network on the untreated side of the body got worse, and the treated side got better.
The scans also detected differences in responses between dose groups, with the highest gene therapy dose demonstrating a longer-lasting effect.
The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.