Focused ultrasound for treating Parkinson's disease to be tested

October 12, 2012, University of Virginia
U.Va. To Test Focused Ultrasound for Treating Parkinson’s Disease
Dr. Jeff Elias, left,is the principal investigator of a a new study to investigate the scalpel-free technology’s safety and effectiveness in reducing tremor related to Parkinson’s disease. Credit: Robert Frysinger

(Medical Xpress)—After a promising clinical trial of focused ultrasound as a potential treatment for essential tremor, the University of Virginia Health System is launching a new study to investigate the scalpel-free technology's safety and effectiveness in reducing tremor related to Parkinson's disease.

The phase 1 clinical trial has been approved by the U.S. and is expected to enroll 30 subjects with medication-resistant Parkinson's disease. The subjects will undergo an investigational procedure using focused delivered within a magnetic resonance scanner to target a small area deep in the brain. Unlike traditional , there is no need to cut into the skull.

"We are very encouraged by our initial experience with MRI-guided focused ultrasound. There is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm from our patients and the public for treatments without ," Dr. Jeff Elias, the trial's principal investigator, said. "Parkinson's disease is the next logical step on our roadmap of investigation."

Elias previously conducted the first focused ultrasound trial for treatment of . All 15 trial participants were discharged the day after their procedures, and tremor improvement has been seen throughout follow-up.

"The technology allowed us to safely perform the procedure in all 15 of the patients, and none of them received any anesthesia," Elias said. "They got a similar degree of tremor control that we see with other surgical procedures like deep brain stimulation."

Elias is preparing the full findings of the essential tremor trial, and he expects to proceed to a larger, multicenter and international trial. Because the trial was the first of its kind, more work needs to be done to determine the long-term effectiveness of the procedure in treating essential tremor. As such, it remains investigational and is not yet available as a treatment outside a clinical trial.

The new Parkinson's trial will test focused ultrasound's safety and efficacy in treating tremor related to Parkinson's disease, an incurable, neurodegenerative condition characterized by tremor and uncontrollable movements. Surgery can, in some cases, alleviate symptoms when medications have become ineffective. The current frontline surgical option is , which involves drilling holes in the skull and implanting a pacemaker system in the brain.

U.Va.'s new Parkinson's trial is sponsored jointly by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, the Heller Foundation, the Commonwealth of Virginia and InSightec, the maker of the ultrasound device. Trial participants must have Parkinson's disease with tremor that is resistant to standard medical therapy.

Explore further: DBS operation for Parkinson's disease performed inside iMRI

More information: To learn more about focused ultrasound at U.Va., visit uvahealth.com/focusedultrasound. The site includes a link to a database where those interested in being considered for the Parkinson's trial should submit their information.

Related Stories

DBS operation for Parkinson's disease performed inside iMRI

September 19, 2011
Henry Ford Hospital became the third hospital in the United States to perform a Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) procedure inside an Intraoperative Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner, or iMRI.

AAN releases updated guideline for treating essential tremor

October 19, 2011
The American Academy of Neurology is releasing an updated guideline on how to best treat essential tremor, which is the most common type of tremor disorder and is often confused with other movement disorders such as Parkinson's ...

Most patients stop drugs for essential tremor after deep brain stimulation surgery

April 7, 2011
Deep brain stimulation, a surgical procedure to suppress faulty nerve signals, allowed 77 percent of patients to stop the medications used to treat their essential tremors within one year following the surgery, University ...

Essential tremor patient regains independence following surgery

March 26, 2012
For nearly 30 years, Tom Rogers' left hand would shake when he tried to use it, making even simple tasks such as drinking a glass of water, writing a check, or making a sandwich challenging. The tremor eventually became so ...

Recommended for you

Investigators eye new target for treating movement disorders

January 19, 2018
Blocking a nerve-cell receptor in part of the brain that coordinates movement could improve the treatment of Parkinson's disease, dyskinesia and other movement disorders, researchers at Vanderbilt University have reported.

Parkinson's disease 'jerking' side effect detected by algorithm

January 8, 2018
A mathematical algorithm that can reliably detect dyskinesia, the side effect from Parkinson's treatment that causes involuntary jerking movements and muscle spasms, could hold the key to improving treatment and for patients ...

New brainstem changes identified in Parkinson's disease

January 4, 2018
A pioneering study has found that patients with Parkinson's disease have more errors in the mitochondrial DNA within the brainstem, leading to increased cell death in that area.

Caffeine level in blood may help diagnose people with Parkinson's disease

January 3, 2018
Testing the level of caffeine in the blood may provide a simple way to aid the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in the January 3, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the ...

Researchers shed light on why exercise slows progression of Parkinson's disease

December 22, 2017
While vigorous exercise on a treadmill has been shown to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease in patients, the molecular reasons behind it have remained a mystery.

Robotic device improves balance and gait in Parkinson's disease patients

December 19, 2017
Some 50,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) every year. The American Institute of Neurology estimates there are one million people affected with this neurodegenerative disorder, with 60 years ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.