Bioethics News

Manufacturing Dopamine in the Brain with Gene Therapy

August 23, 2016

(MIT Technology Review) – Parkinson’s patients who take the drug levodopa, or L-Dopa, are inevitably disappointed. At first, during a “honeymoon” period, their symptoms (which include tremors and balance problems) are brought under control. But over time the drug becomes less effective. They may also need ultrahigh doses, and some start spending hours a day in a state of near-frozen paralysis. A biotech company called Voyager Therapeutics now thinks it can extend the effects of L-Dopa by using a surprising approach: gene therapy. The company, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is testing the idea in Parkinson’s patients who’ve agreed to undergo brain surgery and an injection of new DNA.

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