Scientists believe a new drug delivery system could drastically improve the symptoms in people with Parkinson’s disease.
The report, published in the BBC, suggests that the new method could “reawaken” brain cells damaged by the condition.
The new drug delivery system works by directly administering Parkinson’s disease drugs into the patient’s brain via a “port” in the side of their head.
In initial results, the authors of the report suggest the trial has so far demonstrated improved symptoms and visual evidence of improvements to affected areas of the brain.
Commenting on the success of the study, Dr Alan Whone, principal investigator, said: “We’ve shown with the Pet [positron emission tomography] scans that having arrived, the drug then engages with its target, dopamine nerve endings, and appears to help damaged cells regenerate or have a biological response.”
Dr Whone added that he saw patients who had been diagnosed with the disease for eight years but recent scans showed images that would be expected just two years post-diagnosis.
The improvement in brain scans was “beyond anything seen previously in trials of surgically delivered growth-factor treatments for Parkinson’s,” said Dr Whone.
“Its failure to produce the same effect on symptoms could be for a number of reasons.
“It may be that the effects on symptoms lag behind the improvement in the brain scans, so a longer double-blind trial may have produced a clearer effect. It’s also possible that a higher dose of GDNF would have been more effective, or that participants at an earlier stage of the condition would have responded better.”
Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over a number of years. The major symptoms of the condition are involuntary shaking, slow movement, and stiff and inflexible muscles. However, some of the lesser known symptoms include depression and anxiety, problems sleeping and memory problems.
It is believed that around one in every 500 people are affected by Parkinson’s in the UK.