NWPF

News ArchivesRead News

Eye implants offer Parkinson’s hope

Thursday December 15, 2005

Wai Lang Chu

12/13/05(Archives of Neurology) - A new therapy for Parkinson’s disease involving brain implants has been developed by US scientists, who believe this new treatment is a viable alternative to drugs currently used to treat this chronic irreversible brain condition.

Levodopa is currently the most common drug treatment for the brain condition but the pills can leave people susceptible to involuntary movements such as twitches. It is normally prescribed a few years after diagnosis as the symptoms get worse.

In addition, disease progression and long-term oral treatment with levodopa may lead to the development of motor fluctuations and dyskinesias

This new approach involved taking levadopa producing eye cells taken from a dead donor and implanting the directly into the brains of six Parkinsons patients. The researchers reported no serious side effects.

Eye cells that form retinal pigment epithelial tissue produce levodopa and can be isolated from human eye tissue and implanted in the brain. Research on animals has shown that the cell implants can help treat the symptoms safely.

The retina cells were cultivated and implanted in the brains of six patients with advanced Parkinson’s, said researcher Natividad Stover of the University of Alabama.

One year later, the patients scored 48 per cent higher on tests of movement and coordination, and the improvement was sustained after two years, Stover wrote in the report.

"The implants were well tolerated," the report said. "Improvement was also observed in activities of daily living (and) quality of life."

The study is additional proof that the technique could work on humans and paves the way for a larger, more thorough study.

Indeed, Stover added that a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was now in the pipeline to test the treatment further.

For most patients, the levodopa pills lose their effectiveness over five years or less, and larger and larger doses are needed to keep at bay the involuntary movements and shaking symptomatic of the disease.

Some scientists have viewed implanting foetal stem cells into the brains of Parkinson’s patients as a promising avenue to restoring dopamine production. But preliminary human trials were disappointing, and animal experiments have yielded mixed results.

Other treatments showing promise include deep brain stimulation with implanted electrodes, drugs that promote brain cell growth, and gene therapy

Recent News

Oct 18 - Fighting Parkinson's disease through dance
Oct 18 - Brain disconnections may contribute to Parkinson's hallucinations
Oct 17 - Scientists Identify Structure of PINK1, Key Parkinson’s-protective Protein
Oct 17 - Diabetes drug cuts Parkinson's risk by 28 percent, study finds
Oct 10 - Advances in Brain Pacemaker Reduces Tremors, Helps Parkinson's Sufferers Live a More Normal Life
Oct 10 - Medical History Could Help Predict Parkinson's Disease Risk Long Before Diagnosis
Oct 3 - Changes in Olfactory Bulb Explain Loss of Smell in Early Stages of Parkinson’s Disease, Study Finds
Oct 3 - Sleep Disturbances May Worsen Motor Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease, Study Suggests
Sep 12 - Australian Researchers Develop New Diagnostic Tool to Spot Early Signs of Parkinson’s
Sep 11 - GeneFo Webinar to Focus on Using Humor to Manage Parkinson’s Disease
Sep 6 - Parkinson’s and the ‘D’ word
Sep 6 - Compounds in Asthma Drugs Might Be Used as Parkinson’s Treatment
Sep 5 - AstraZeneca Joins Takeda, Berg to Advance Development of Parkinson’s Disease Therapies
Sep 1 - Stem Cell Transplant Trial in Parkinson’s Patients Planned After Test in Japan Succeeds in Monkeys
Sep 1 - Titan to Start Phase 1/2 Study of Subdermal Implant to Deliver Requip to Parkinson’s Patients
Aug 30 - FDA Refuses Acorda’s Inbrija New Drug Application Due to Manufacturing Questions
Aug 23 - Support Groups: Are They for You?
Aug 22 - Internet Visits with Parkinson’s Specialist Can Be as Effective as In-person Visits, Trial Finds
Aug 21 - Cavion’s New CMO to Lead Cav3 Platform Development for Neurological Diseases
Aug 15 - Singing Helps Early-stage Parkinson’s Patients Retain Speech, Respiratory Control, Studies Show