More Gene Therapy For Parkinson's Disease

ScienCentral on trials of one particular gene therapy aimed at ameliorating the symptoms of Parkinson's disease: "The gene therapy study was to look at an area of the brain called the subthalamic nucleus. The area is overactive when you have Parkinson's disease. ... treatment relaxed brain activity in the motor network, making a patient with severe over-activity look like a person with moderate or mild Parkinson's disease. And because patients only received the therapy on one side of their brains, the researchers used the untreated side as a control. ... The network activity in the treated side went down while the other network in fact got worse over the period of time. It was as if the disease had progressed on one side of the brain, but not the other. But just as important was to determine whether the gene therapy affected the thinking network - and results show it did not. ... [researchers] plan to start their next [phase II] clinical trial in early 2008." While this is more patch than regeneration of causative damage in Parkinson's, we should welcome advances in safely manipulating the brain. However the future of healthy life extension progresses, we are going to have to become very proficient at repairing brain biochemistry in situ.



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