Hospital seeks help with clinical trial
Doctors conducting a new trial which could help stop the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease are looking for patients from the Westcountry to take part.
The £2 million project led by researchers at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, is hoping to recruit 36 people suffering from the debilitating neurological condition.
Lead researchers neurologist Dr Alan Whone and neurosurgeon Professor Steven Gill are investigating the therapeutic potential of a promising protein called GDNF.
The study will investigate whether infusing GDNF directly into the brain using a specially designed delivery port could help to improve symptoms – such as a stiffness, slowness of movement and tremor – and slow down the spread of the condition.
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Professor Gill said: "One of the biggest problems facing many researchers in the past has been finding a way to get past the blood/brain barrier, which prevents materials from blood entering the brain.
"We have developed a new way to bypass this barrier, and deliver the protein directly, by infusion, to the areas of the brain where cells die in Parkinson's.
"We are hopeful that this will promote restoration of the dying neurones responsible for the symptoms of the disease."
Results from an initial safety phase carried out with six patients have been already been assessed and mean a bigger trial can now go forward.
Dr Whone said the surgery involved was invasive and potential candidates would need to undergo rigorous testing and assessments.
"They will need to meet specific criteria regarding their suitability for surgery, for example, their current Parkinson's treatment plan and any family history."
He said regular travel to Bristol during the nine months that the trial will run was essential.
Parkinson's affects 127,000 people in the UK and currently few treatments are available. It develops when a lack of the chemical dopamine causes nerve cells within the brain to die.
Previous research studies have suggested that GDNF has the potential to encourage these cells to grow again – in effect stopping the progression of Parkinson's.
For full details of volunteering with the GDNF trial and more details about the research, contact visit parkinsons.org.uk