Gene therapy ‘treats’ Parkinson’s disease

Treating Parkinson’s disease with gene therapy has been shown to be successful in clinical trials for the first time, say US researchers.

The illness causes uncontrolled shaking, stiffness and slow movement as part of the brain dies.

The small study in The Lancet Neurology used a virus to add genes to brain cells, which resulted in reduced symptoms for half of patients.

Parkinson’s UK welcomed the study, but said further research was needed.

The disease affects 120,000 people in the UK, mostly in the over-50s.

There is no cure, although drugs and deep brain stimulation have been shown to reduce symptoms.

Gene treatment

Patients with Parkinson’s have reduced levels of a chemical – GABA – in part of the brain known as the subthalamic nucleus.

The researchers created a virus which “infects” cells with a gene to increase GABA production.

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