NWPF

News ArchivesRead News

Parkinson's Study Underway at UVA

Tuesday May 21, 2013

Sandy Hausman

WVTF Public Radio - The University of Virginia will soon begin a study that could help people with Parkinson’s Disease. Doctors will use focused sound waves to modify the brain and – they hope – eliminate or reduce tremors.

The University of Virginia is one of many medical centers experimenting with the use of focused ultrasound. Doctors use soundwaves to destroy unwanted tumors and other tissue they can see using magnetic resonance imaging.

So far, they’ve shown that it’s possible to zap pathways in the brain that are causing unwanted movement or tremors. Fifteen patients underwent the bloodless, outpatient procedure and saw improvement in their condition.

Dr. Binit Shah says a second study, involving other medical centers, is planned for people with essential tremor, and another clinical trial – this one involving 30 patients from Virginia – will involve treatment for tremors associated with Parkinson’s Disease.

Already, doctors know that by burning or zapping some sections of the brain, they can reduce unwanted movement, but using focused ultrasound is less invasive.

“So unlike the other types of treatments which all involve making a small hole in the skull and then using a wire to go down into this deeper structure to either leave there and stimulate with electrical signals or to heat up and cause this burn lesion, we can focus these ultrasound beams, to heat up and cause that same lesion," says Dr. Shah.

And it’s possible, he says, that focused ultrasound could treat other problems linked to Parkinson’s.

“We can potentially make lesions in other parts of the brain. They can have different effects – benefits not just with tremor potentially but also some of the other features, like slowness and stiffness.”

Shah says it will take several years to establish the safety and effectiveness of this treatment, and it won’t be widely available until the Food and Drug Administration certifies that focused ultrasound reduces or eliminates tremors and is safe.

Recent News

May 20 - Book Review: Aging in the Key of Humor
May 19 - Press Release: The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research Joins Multinational Critical Path for Parkinson's Consortium
May 19 - Congress reaches deal to overhaul chemical regulation
May 16 - Lifestyle: Why Parkinson's disease won't stop me rowing across the Pacific
May 16 - Many biomarkers for PD fail to inform on progression
May 10 - Parkinson's Cell Transplant Shows Good Reinnervation at 24 Years
May 7 - Growing art installation gathers stories of living with Parkinson's
May 5 - New technique can provide better cell transplants against Parkinson's disease
May 2 - What's Good For The Heart Is Good For The Brain
Apr 29 - Press Release: FDA approves first drug to treat hallucinations and delusions associated with Parkinson’s disease
Apr 28 - Dopamine-making neurons can be chemically controlled in animal model of Parkinson's
Apr 25 - Lifestyle: Dating with Disease
Apr 25 - Scientific breakthrough in fight against Parkinson's and Alzheimer's
Apr 20 - Breakthrough Parkinson's disease blood test
Apr 15 - Living with Parkinson's
Apr 12 - Tissue biomarker for dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease
Apr 11 - Yoga for Every Body: Experts say yoga can ease pain and improve mobility for people with neurologic conditions
Apr 9 - Commonly prescribed Parkinson's drugs up risk of compulsive gambling, shopping, binge eating, hypersexuality
Apr 7 - Pfizer and IBM Launch Innovative Research Project to Transform Parkinson's Disease Care
Apr 7 - Parkinson's Drug Highly Effective for Resistant Depression