Focused ultrasound for treating Parkinson's disease to be tested

October 12, 2012
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

Scientists solve 3-D structure of key defense protein against Parkinson's disease

October 5, 2017
Scientists at the University of Dundee have identified the structure of a key enzyme that protects the brain against Parkinson's disease.

Novel protein interactions explain memory deficits in Parkinson's disease

September 26, 2017
A study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience describes the identification of a novel molecular pathway that can constitute a therapeutic target for cognitive defects in Parkinson's disease. The study showed that abnormal ...

Psychosis in Parkinson's dementia—new treatment provides hope

September 25, 2017
New research involving King's College London and the University of Exeter has highlighted the benefits of a promising new treatment which could relieve psychosis in thousands of people with dementia related to Parkinson's ...

Bicycling 'overloads' movement networks with Parkinson's

September 23, 2017
(HealthDay)—Bicycling suppresses abnormal beta synchrony in the Parkinsonian basal ganglia, according to a study published online Sept. 11 in the Annals of Neurology.

Researchers find new path to promising Parkinson's treatment

September 19, 2017
Three researchers at The University of Alabama are part of work that is leading to a new direction for drug discovery in the quest to treat Parkinson's disease.

Tug of war between Parkinson's protein and growth factor

September 18, 2017
Alpha-synuclein, a sticky and sometimes toxic protein involved in Parkinson's disease (PD), blocks signals from an important brain growth factor, Emory researchers have discovered.

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.