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Gene therapy Beneficial in Parkinson’s Disease

Thursday October 26, 2006

19 Oct 2006(MedIndia.com) - The initial studies of human gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease has given the green signal to technique showing it to safe, and useful in reducing symptoms for patients, according to the reports of two groups of researchers.

In the neuroscience meetings held yesterday and last week the researchers reported that each of the 24 patients who received therapy in the two separate trials received some benefit and none had significant side effects.

Katie Hood, deputy chief executive officer of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research said that gene therapy had a tarnished reputation because of problems encountered in trials against other diseases.

In 1999 the Food and Drug Administration temporarily halted gene therapy trials after an 18-year-old who was treated for a mild genetic disorder died after a violent reaction to the procedure. in 2005 trials were again brought to a standstill after three French children who was treated for inherited immuno- deficiency disease developed leukemia and one of them died.

Hood said, ``It’s very encouraging that two companies were able to show benefits with no significant adverse effects. Safety is obviously the first hurdle."

Patients have been cautioned however against placing too much hope in the findings because Parkinson’s studies have been infamous for showing placebo effects. Researchers say that only when the techniques are tested in controlled trials, which are now in the planning stages, can they determine whether the benefits are real, and long-lasting or not.

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