Gene Therapy to Control Parkinson’s Symptoms

An experimental treatment showed positive results of gene therapy test against sham operations. The study which was published in the journal, Lancet Neurology, patients who received gene therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD) showed promising results. PD is a degenerative brain disease which causes symptoms like rigidity, slow movements and tremors. About one in every 500 individuals suffer from this condition. Unfortunately, there is no cure for it and only the usage of drugs helps in controlling the symptoms.

Michael Kaplitt, the lead author of the study, along with the colleagues, tested 16 patients on gene therapy and 21 other patients got a sham surgery. All the participants were on Parkinson’s medication. After 6 months, 23% patients scored better on the standard test for measuring motor skills. Patients who underwent sham operation scored only 13% better.

In Parkinson’s disease, the patient’s brain turns overactive owing to lack of normal supply of GABA, a chemical. Gene therapy helps by inserting many copies of gene into the individual’s brain which helps in the production of more GABA. The researchers feel that gene therapy might soon become a treatment option for many brain illnesses like epilepsy, Alzheimer’s or depression.

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