Healthcare Industry News:  deep brain stimulation 

Biopharmaceuticals Regenerative Medicine Neurology

 News Release - April 6, 2007

Exciting Developments on the Horizon for Parkinson Disease, Says Medical Director for the National Parkinson Foundation

April is Parkinson Awareness Month

MIAMI--(HSMN NewsFeed)--More than 1.5 million Americans are affected by Parkinson disease and an additional 60,000 cases are diagnosed each year. Dr. Michael S. Okun, the National Medical Director for the National Parkinson Foundation, has identified the following "hot areas" which reveal exciting new discoveries in Parkinson research and should be watched:

Gene Therapy

Scientists can now load viruses with important genetic information, growth factors and enzymes that can directly target damaged brain cells in patients with Parkinson disease. Many trials have begun worldwide, some of which have already progressed to human study.

Deep Brain Surgery

In the past 12 to 24 months, clinicians and researchers have discovered a "target" in the brainstem that when stimulated, can improve the walking and balance of the persons with Parkinson. This target and other new, emerging targets can be used with already successful brain surgeries (such as deep brain stimulation) to further improve the non-motor and medication resistant symptoms of the disease.

Genetics

World class researchers have applied new technologies to encode multiple genes in multiple families. The genes seem to be associated with Parkinson disease. Scientists are now decoding this genetic information to determine potential causes of Parkinson and are developing new therapeutic strategies based on the genetic pathways.

RNA Technologies

RNA, the single-stranded chain of nucleic acid, is responsible for translating the genetic code of DNA into proteins. Scientists have now discovered that they can manipulate and "silence" RNA by inserting proteins into the brain to treat neurological ailments such as Parkinson disease. Using this technology to silence RNA may represent a new therapeutic horizon for treating the disease.

Brain Circuits

Researchers have now encoded a proposed pathway for the neurodegenerative process and the neuropathological changes associated with Parkinson disease. Understanding these pathways will potentially lead to new therapeutic brain targets.

Stem Cell Therapy

There are two types of stem cells: embryonic and adult (not from embryos), both of which reflect exciting advancements for therapeutics in Parkinson disease. Despite the political debate surrounding the issue, stem cell therapy remains a promising area in research. Researchers and clinicians are seeking ways to make stem cells grow in targeted areas of the brain to reconstitute damaged brain cells, turn them on and off and prevent tumor formation.

Founded in 1957 and headquartered in Miami, the National Parkinson Foundation's dual mission is to find the cause of and cure for Parkinson disease, as well as to improve the quality of life for those afflicted with the debilitating disease. NPF has invested tens of millions in research and is equally dedicated to providing care, education and support services for persons whose lives are affected by Parkinson. For more information on the disease or current programs and research developments, visit www.parkinson.org or call 1-800-327-4545.


Source: National Parkinson Foundation

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