Hope for Parkinson’s sufferers as breakthrough trial shows how damage to brain cells could be REVERSED with a life-changing drug

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Posted at 3:06 PM, Feb 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-27 17:50:49-05

(WXYZ) — A promising breakthrough in the fight against Parkinson’s. Clinical trials testing an experimental treatment where drugs were delivered straight to the brain produced some very encouraging results.

Question: Tell us about this breakthrough trial.

Well, this new study sounds very hopeful. Researchers found patients’ brain scans actually showed that the treatment had reversed roughly six years worth of damage. That sounds pretty amazing. Now when you have Parkinson’s Disease, certain neurons in the brain break down or die. And you end up with symptoms like stiffness, tremors, and trouble moving or walking. But this drug known as glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor or GDNF for short, appeared to support neuronal health. The researchers say it may be helping to reawaken and regenerate damaged cells that are destroyed when you have Parkinson’s.

Question: How were the drugs delivered to the brain?

A special delivery system was designed. An implant port was surgically placed on the side of the head. And four tubes allowed the drug to be delivered deep into the brain with pinpoint accuracy. The researchers feel this could be a breakthrough when it comes to treating neurological conditions. Because this method allows drugs to cross the blood-brain barrier, which many drugs can’t do.

Question: So did the study’s participants see their symptoms improve?

The study involved 41 patients who had been given GDNF for either 9 or 18 months. And the researchers found that all participants had improvements to their motor symptoms – some moderate and some significant. While this sounds encouraging, we need to be cautious because there was no comparison group. So the researchers would like to conduct another trial, this time set up differently, with a stronger dose given over a longer period of time. I think this is a great idea because at the moment, there is no cure and no way to stop Parkinson’s Disease from progressing.