Frenchay Hospital to trial new research into Parkinson's

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Media captionThe study aims to test a new technique for treating Parkinson's disease

A pilot into the treatment of Parkinson's disease which researchers hope could help to slow down the condition is taking place in Bristol.

Frenchay Hospital wants to discover the effect of infusing the protein Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF) directly into the brain.

The pilot follows an "initial safety trial" involving six patients.

The project is funded by Parkinson's UK, with support from Cure Parkinson's Trust and North Bristol NHS Trust.

'Brain cells die'

The study will research if GDNF infusion, using a "specially-designed delivery port", could help to improve symptoms such as a stiffness, slowness of movement and tremor.

Neurosurgeon Professor Steven 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."

Dr Kieran Breen, from Parkinson's UK, said: "We believe that GDNF could have the potential to unlock a new approach for treating Parkinson's that may be able to slow down, and ultimately stop, the progression of the condition all together."

Researchers at Frenchay are looking for 36 people with the disease to participate in the research.

They stressed that potential volunteers for the nine-month study should understand that the trial is "invasive" and that they would "undergo rigorous testing and assessments".

Some of them would be given GDNF and some would receive a placebo.

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