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March 22, 2011

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New Parkinson's therapy

AN experimental gene therapy reduced symptoms of Parkinson's disease in a mid-stage test, echoing results of an earlier pilot study.

The new research is the first to show positive results in a test of gene therapy against a placebo procedure in about three dozen US Parkinson's patients.

After six months, those who got the gene therapy scored 23 percent better on a test of motor skills while those who got the sham operation did 13 percent better.

"Gene therapy is no longer just a theory," says Michael Kaplitt, a neurosurgeon at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center, and one of the study authors.

"We are getting much closer to a reality where this treatment can be offered to patients."

He said the results might spur similar treatments for other brain disorders like Alzheimer's, epilepsy and depression.

The gene therapy was tested on 16 people while 21 others received a sham surgery.

The patients were aged 30 to 75 and all were taking Parkinson's medication.


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