Attached is an article from the UK paper 'The Times'. Its about regrowing / repairing dead / damaged nerves. The article is about Parkinsons but says that the treatment should be applicable to other conditions involving the CNS. It's probably early days but another glimmer of hope for the future.
July 02, 2005
Drug find offers a glimmer of hope to Parkinson's sufferers
By Sam Lister, Health Correspondent
SCIENTISTS are hailing a potential breakthrough in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions following research into an experimental drug that prompts the regrowth of lost nerve fibres.
Analysis of the brain of a Parkinson’s sufferer has shown that the treatment, a tissue- protecting protein known as GDNF, triggered repair of damaged nerve fibres and improved body movement in patients. Scientists believe that the drug could now be applied to other nerve growth factors used in Alzheimer’s disease and Motor Neuron disease. More than 120,000 people in the UK suffer from Alzheimer’s, which effects movement, and although treatments are available, no cure has yet been found.
The analysed patient, a man aged 62, was one of five people in a pilot study carried out by Steven Gill, at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol. In the study, GDNF — glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor — was pumped through a catheter into a damaged part of the brain.
Within months, patients were noticing dramatic improvements in their ability to move, which continued over almost four years of treatment. Even after ceasing medication, the patients’ progress has been maintained.
Following the death of the man from an unrelated heart attack in December, scientists at Bristol University studied the side of his brain injected with GDNF and compared it with the untreated area. In Parkinson’s disease nerves containing the chemical messenger dopamine are lost from a region of the brain known as the putamen, leading to tremors and other motor abnormalities characteristic of the disease.
On examining the GDNF brain, Seth Love, a professor at Frenchay Hospital’s Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, found that dopamine-containing nerve fibres had sprouted back in the putamen. Mr Gill, a neurosurgeon, said that the evidence, which is published this month in the journal Nature Medicine, was compelling.
He said: “This is the first time that there has been evidence of resuscitation of dying neurons and rewiring of the brain to restore function.”
GDNF is not available to patients with Parkinson’s after its manufacturer, Amgen, ceased production over concerns about its toxicity and a mediocre improvement rate in users.
However, the Bristol team developed a much more refined and direct means of injecting the drug into the brain tissue, which has been credited with the dramatically improved outcomes. To date, the most commonly used Parkinson’s drug has been L-Dopa, which only controls the symptoms for most patients.'
PS Following my dx one of the neuros ran through the different emotional states I might encounter. One was called 'bargaining' - I do this quite alot e.g. I'd rather lose a leg than have MS etc etc. MND is clearly much worse than MS (most cases of MS) but I think I'd swap MS for Parkinsons (it's a close call but at least the damage is normally restricted to one area of the brain). Does anyone else suffer from this 'bargaining'?