A new study has shown that gene therapy can reduce symptoms in patients with Parkinson's, media reports said Thursday.
The study, published in the journal Lancet Neurology, is the first to show positive results in a test of gene therapy against a sham operation in 45 U.S. Parkinson's patients.
The treated group showed a 23.1 percent improvement on a scale of Parkinson's symptoms six months after treatment, compared to a 12.7 percent improvement for patients who received sham surgery, according to the published research.
"Gene therapy is no longer just a theory," said 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."
In patients with Parkinson's disease, their brains get overactive after losing the normal supply of a chemical called GABA. The new treatment, gene therapy, works by inserting billions of copies of a gene into patients' brains that helps them produce more GABA.
Kaplitt said the results might spur similar treatments for other brain disorders like Alzheimer's, epilepsy and depression.