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Proteins May Treat Parkinson's

Rat study shows gene therapy prevented degeneration of nerve cells in brain

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 8, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Using a genetically engineered virus to deliver two proteins into the brains of laboratory rats prevented the progressive degeneration of nerve cells that cause Parkinson's disease.

Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles report the results in the September issue of Molecular Therapy.

This research into the delivery of the "Sonic Hedgehog" and "Gli-1" proteins may help in the development of a treatment for people with advanced Parkinson's disease, the scientists said.

"Our results establish, for the first time, that viral transfer of Sonic Hedgehog and Gli-1 -- two proteins that are involved in early brain development, but are no longer present in the adult brain -- may provide a new strategy to prevent progressive degeneration of the nerve cells in the brain that cause Parkinson's disease," Dr. Pedro Lowenstein, director of the Gene Therapeutic Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai, said in a prepared statement.

Current drugs can help manage symptoms of Parkinson's disease but can't stop or slow its progression.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about Parkinson's disease.

SOURCE: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, news release, Sept. 8, 2004
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