Cells Benefit Parkinsonís Patients
brain cell transplants can benefit younger Parkinsonís disease patients,
according to researchers in Denver and New York.
of the long-awaited trials, in which dopamine-producing fetal brain cells were
implanted into the brains of Parkinsonís patients, were released at the recent
annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.
Freed, M.D., of the University of Colorado in Denver, and Stanley Fahn, M.D., of
the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, described the results of a
complicated surgical lottery used to evaluate the treatment in 40 Parkinsonís
patients. In a random process, some patients received actual cell implants,
while the rest received a placebo surgery that left a hole in their skulls, but
no penetration of the dura mater.
year after undergoing the procedure, the nine patients under the age of 60 who
received transplants of fetal brain tissue showed significant improvement in
their movement scores. Patients who received the placebo surgery and
tranplantees over 60 showed no significant benefits, according to the
researchers. At the meeting, they displayed PET scans that showed new
dopamine-producing neurons in the younger patientsí brains.
NEW YORK, Jul 02 (Reuters Health) -- Electrically stimulating a
region of the brain appears to show some promise for treating movement problems
in patients with Parkinson's disease, according to preliminary results in five
Dr. Tetsuo Yokoyama and colleagues from Hamamatsu University
School of Medicine in Japan surgically placed an electrode that continuously
stimulated the patients' subthalamic nucleus, a region of the brain that helps
to control movement.
The patients were between 60 and 73 years of age and had balance
problems and a "freezing gait," a disorder associated with Parkinson's
disease in which the person suddenly stops during walking and cannot continue,
according to a report in the July issue of Neurosurgery.
Three of the patients had previously undergone pallidotomy,
another type of brain surgery, but had not improved.
Three months after placement of the electrode, tests scores for
falling, freezing, and ease of walking were significantly improved compared with
the presurgery scores in all five patients, the investigators report. The level
of improvement was on par with drug treatment used before the surgery.
On further study, the team found that patients experienced fewer
falls and marked improvement in freezing and gait after subthalamic nucleus
stimulation, but there was no effect on balance problems.
Subthalamic stimulation "effectively alleviates freezing gait
and improves walking to its status during the preoperative on-drug phase and can
be applied for the treatment of Parkinson's patients with these symptoms,"
Yokoyama and colleagues conclude.
In an accompanying editorial, Roy A.E. Bakay of Atlanta, Georgia,
writes that it is still too early to "anoint subthalamic nucleus deep brain
stimulation as the next miracle in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, but it
certainly merits continued investigation."