January 17, 2011

Last week's Parkinson's news on the web

charter maldriverna

Here’s a rundown on the major PD treatment stories reported on the internet or other news sources this past week:

Leukemia Drug Gleevec is being studied to see if it can help preserve the neurons that are affected during PD. Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio have reported, based on a three-year study with mice, that the drug Gleevec, which is used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia, might show down the progression of Parkinson’s. The study with mice showed that Gleevec helped PD by clearing up the proteins that accumulate and destroy brain cells. Gleevec, however, doesn’t penetrate the brain tissue as well as researchers would like. But they are hopeful that other drugs in the same class will work with Parkinson’s.

As with virtually all reports on current research like this, the report concludes: “'Use of the drug for Parkinson's in humans is still years away.”

Botox, however, IS being used with humans now and it shows promise for helping people with Parkinson’s by releasing the grip of muscle spasms, tremors, and pain. Botox is usually used cosmetically to treat wrinkles. But at the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center, patients with PD and other muscular disorders get multiple targeted injection of botulism toxin (botox) guided by electro myography. The botox injections relax tight and spastic muscles.

Dr. Guillermo Moguel-Cobos, MD, a neurologist at the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center Barrow Neurological Institute, said the botox takes about seven days for it to work.
He added, "The Botox, what it does is it goes into the nerve terminals and then makes those nerve terminals fire less, and by firing less the muscles or the limbs return to their original or more normal position”

On average, the botox injections last for about three months. Another round of treatment is then needed. The treatment works best if combined with physical therapy. A therapist can work with the patient to strengthen the newly loosened muscles.


GaitAid, a training device that gives movement feedback , has been shown to improve walking for a variety of neurological patients, including stroke, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis, but it seems to work best with those with Parkinson’s. The device apparently has been used for a couple of years but the news reports that came up on the web this past week were the first I’d heard..
The GaitAid device includes special glasses and/or goggles worn over the eyes and headphones which output visual and audio cues. The patient is given a target for each walking step and feedback on their movement. With daily 20 minute practice sessions, patients re-learn to walk better with more confidence and balance.

“The GaitAid isn't right for everyone.", says Prof. Baram, inventor of the device. "Patient's need to be cognitively intact and not be wheelchair bound. Motivation, persistence and caregiver support are crucial for success.

"Here’s a description from the GaitAid website:

“The GaitAid, a portable home-use device, provides an alternative means to sensing and balancing the walking body. It includes glasses and headphones which display an image super-imposed on the real environment and plays a sound for every step.
The idea is to give the brain additional sensory input through sight and sound which establishes a clear sense of timing for walking, a target for each step, and feedback that the body has moved.

The GaitAid can be used as a walking aid by clipping the control unit onto the pants and wearing only the headphones.”
See http://www.gaitaidmedical.net/parkinsons.html

GaitAid is not cheap. It costs $1995 (including shipment) or $185.00 per month for 12 months (total: $2220.00). I looked for reviews and the only ones I found were positive.


DaTscan, an imaging technique that captures detailed images of the brain, including areas affected by PD, has been approved by the FDA. The Michael J. Fox Foundation applauded the approval, noting that this is the first time the FDA has approved an imaging agent to aid in assessing degenerative movement disorders such as Parkinson’s.

DaTscan already is in use in 14 U.S. medical centers as part of the Foundation’s “landmark clinical study” – Parkinson’s Progression Markers Imitative (PPMI) – seeking biomarkers of PD. With DaTscan, for the first time we have an objective test to help confirm a clinical diagnosis of Parkinson’s, the Foundation said. It added:

“DaTscan represents a major step forward in enabling timely initiation of appropriate treatment and improved disease management, which contribute to greater quality of life and better long-lasting treatment."

No comments: