Wednesday March 20, 2019

Novel Treatment Offers Promise to Stop Parkinson’s

After nine months, there was no change in the PET scans of those who received placebo. On the other hand, the group who received GDNF showed an improvement of 100 per cent in a key area of the brain affected in the condition

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10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay
10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay

An experimental treatment that delivers a drug directly to the brain has shown promise for slowing, stopping, or even reversing Parkinson’s disease, say researchers.

The study, by a team led by University of Bristol researchers, in a clinical trial investigated whether the treatment called Glial Cell Line Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF) — a natural protein, found in the brain — can regenerate dying dopamine brain cells in patients with Parkinson’s and reverse their condition, something no existing treatment can do.

The results potentially demonstrated that the new treatment was starting to reawaken and restore damaged brain cells and that repeated brain infusion is clinically feasible and tolerable, according in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

The study “represents some of the most compelling evidence yet that we may have a means to possibly reawaken and restore the dopamine brain cells that are gradually destroyed in Parkinson’s”, said principal investigator Alan L. Whone, from the University of Bristol in the UK.

After an initial safety study of six people, 35 individuals were enrolled in the nine-month double blind trial, in which half were randomly assigned to receive monthly infusions of GDNF and the other half placebo infusions.

Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson’s Disease Gets Awareness From Various Events. Flickr

All participants underwent robot-assisted surgery to have four tubes placed into their brains, which allowed GDNF or placebo to be infused directly to the affected areas with pinpoint accuracy, via a port in their head.

After implantation the team administered, more than 1,000 brain infusions, once every four weeks.

After nine months, there was no change in the PET scans of those who received placebo. On the other hand, the group who received GDNF showed an improvement of 100 per cent in a key area of the brain affected in the condition.

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“This trial has shown that we can safely and repeatedly infuse drugs directly into patients’ brains over months or years,” said Steven Gill, lead neurosurgeon at North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol, UK

“This is a significant breakthrough in our ability to treat neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s, because most drugs that might work cannot cross from the blood stream into the brain due to a natural protective barrier.” (IANS)

Next Story

Researchers Develop Novel Treatment to Treat Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis

However, in people with autoimmune disease, these cells somehow escape the checkpoint and the immune system remains in a state of alert, attacking body cells

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Diabetes
Representational image. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a novel and safe treatment for autoimmune diseases including Type-1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS) that arise when the body’s immune cells attack itself.

Current treatments eliminate these misfunctioning immune cells, but also destroy normal, protective immune cells, leaving patients susceptible to immune deficiency and opportunistic infections.

The new approach, by researchers from the University of Utah in the US, targets the misfunctioning immune cells while leaving the normal immune cells in place.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, the team engineered a protein molecule to deplete the misfunctioning PD-1-expressing cells from the body while leaving normal immune cells in place.

“We wanted to target PD-1-expressing cells. Using this method, we may avoid long-term immune deficiency caused by common treatments for autoimmune disease,” said lead author Peng Zhao, from the varsity.

When tested in a mouse model mimicking Type-1 diabetes, the treatment delayed the onset of diabetes.

“We are really taking treatment for autoimmune disease in a new direction,” said Mingnan Chen, Assistant Professor at the varsity.

Diabetes
Representational image. Pixabay

“To make similar therapeutics for people, we would need to find the anti-human PD-1 antibody, like the anti-mouse PD-1 antibody.

“If we can generate the human version of therapeutics, I think we could make a huge impact in treating autoimmune disease,” Chen said.

In addition, the treatment was also applied to a mouse MS model.

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Besides halting the progression of paralysis, the treatment also restored the mice’s ability to walk.

In a normal functioning immune system, the PD-1-expressing cells, including immune cells, contain a mechanism that prevents the cycle from attacking itself.

However, in people with autoimmune disease, these cells somehow escape the checkpoint and the immune system remains in a state of alert, attacking body cells. (IANS)