Researchers make world’s first discovery in Parkinson’s battle

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It is hailed as a world first in the fight against Parkinson’s disease.

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Researchers from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center and the University Health Network have found that focused ultrasound technology is safe to deliver treatment to targeted brain regions in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

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“Our early findings are an exciting and critical first step in the less invasive direct delivery to the brain of therapies in key brain areas important in the development and progression of Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr. Nir Lipsman, co – director of the study. researcher and director of Sunnybrook’s Harquail Center for Neuromodulation.

“Current management strategies for Parkinson’s disease include drugs and more invasive neurosurgery. Focused ultrasound is a less invasive and targeted approach that could change the way brain disorders are treated in the future.

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Low-intensity MRI-guided ultrasound technology uses ultrasound waves to break through the blood-brain barrier, a layer that protects the brain from toxins but can also block drugs from getting where they’re needed.

Often, treatments cannot cross the blood-brain barrier because the compounds are too bulky.

In some cases, open brain surgery is needed to help manage Parkinson’s disease, a brain disorder that causes uncontrollable movements, affecting the patient’s quality of life.

The researchers looked at the delivery of an enzyme, glucocerebrosidase, to the putamen which is a key structure in the brain related to movement.

Glucocerebrosidase can help prevent the buildup of the protein alpha-synuclein, a key factor in Parkinson’s disease that leads to unhealthy brain cells.

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The first phase of the trial included four patients with an average age of 54 who had been diagnosed with early-stage Parkinson’s disease.

The patients received three doses of the therapy and the application of focused ultrasound every two weeks to the part of the brain most affected by Parkinson’s disease.

They were followed for periods of three and six months.

“The phase I trial offered a hint of potential improvement in symptoms after treatment, but this requires further study. Any side effects, such as involuntary movements, were only temporary and none were serious,” said Dr. Lorraine Kalia, co-principal investigator and neurologist and senior scientist at UHN’s Krembil Brain Institute.

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“It is still very early in the research, but with the results of our world’s first study, we are making much needed progress in developing innovative treatments for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Sunnybrook and UHN researchers have launched the second phase of the trial and are continuing to investigate.

“The upcoming trial will further explore low-intensity MRI-guided focused ultrasound and target enzyme replacement therapy to both sides of the brain. The ultimate goal is to improve the delivery of therapies to the brain in hopes of ‘improve symptoms or slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease,’ says Dr. Suneil Kalia, co-principal investigator and neurosurgeon and scientist at UHN.

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