Andrew Feigin, MD, and David Eidelberg, MD, of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research collaborated with Michael Kaplitt, MD, of Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan and others to deliver genes for glutamic acid decarboxylase (or GAD) into the subthalamic nucleus of the brain in Parkinson’s patients. The study was designed as a phase I safety study, and the genes were delivered to only one side of the brain to reduce risk and to better assess the treatment.
A recently published study included the clinical results of the novel gene therapy trial, but this new report from the same study focuses on the power of modern brain scans to show that the gene therapy altered brain activity in a favorable way. This latest study is published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The patients only received the viral vector-carrying genes to the side of the brain that controls movement on the side of their body most affected by the disease. It was a so-called open-label study -- everybody received the gene therapy so the scientists knew that there could be a placebo effect. That is why brain scans were so critical to the experiment. Dr. Eidelberg and his colleagues pioneered the technology and used it to identify brain networks in Parkinson’s disease and a number of other neurological disorders.
In Parkinson’s, they identified two discrete brain networks -- one that regulates movement and another that affects cognition. The results from the brain scan study on the gene therapy patients show that only the motor networks were altered by the therapy. “This is good news,” said Dr. Eidelberg, the senior investigator of the study. “You want to be sure that the treatment doesn’t make things worse.” The gene makes an inhibitory chemical called GABA that turns down the activity in a key node of the Parkinson’s motor network. The investigators were not expecting to see changes in cognition, and the scans confirmed that this did not occur.
Position emission tomography (PET) scans were performed before the surgery and repeated six months later and then again one year after the surgery. The motor network on the untreated side of the body got worse, and the treated side got better. The level of improvements in the motor network correlated with increased clinical ratings of patient disability, added Dr. Feigin.
“Having this information from a PET scan allows us to know that what we are seeing is real,” Dr. Eidelberg added. The scans also detected differences in responses between dose groups, with the highest gene therapy dose demonstrating a longer-lasting effect. “This study demonstrates that PET scanning can be a valuable marker in testing novel therapies for Parkinson's disease,” he said.
The gene therapy technique was developed by Neurologix Inc., a New Jersey-based company. Scientists are now working on a design for a phase 2 blinded study that would include a larger number of patients to test the effectiveness of the treatment.
Jamie Talan | EurekAlert!
Faster detection of atrial fibrillation thanks to smartwatch
18.03.2019 | Universität Greifswald
A peek into lymph nodes
15.03.2019 | Tohoku University
Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.
The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...
Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.
Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...
The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.
A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...
New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum
For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...
11.03.2019 | Event News
01.03.2019 | Event News
28.02.2019 | Event News
21.03.2019 | Life Sciences
21.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
21.03.2019 | HANNOVER MESSE