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DBS in Early PD Study to Expand

Posted Mar 08 2010 5:05am

Long-time readers know that I was one of the 30 people taking part in a phase I clinical trial of deep brain stimulation for the treatment of early-stage Parkinson’s disease.  I was one of the 15 randomized to have the surgery, while 15 other volunteers were randomized to the control group, to continue their standard of care and be compared to those of us who had the surgery.

According to a story in the Vanderbilt University Medical Center newsletter, the initial results are so encouraging, they’re going to widen the scale and scope of the trial.

(Dr. David) Charles and his co-investigator, Pete Konrad, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Neurosurgery, are embarking on a two-year planning period to prepare for a large-scale study with representatives from Cleveland Clinic, Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, Rush University, Emory University, University of California-San Francisco, University of Michigan, Stanford University and University of Florida.  The Department of Neurology has pledged $100,000 to the planning effort, and the researchers have submitted a grant application for additional funding from Medtronic, the manufacturer.  “We have been working on this for 10 years, and we need to be planning for the next study right now so we can get started once the pilot is complete,” Charles said. “If we find something in the pilot that indicates we shouldn’t proceed, we won’t, but the likelihood of that is probably low. If we wait, that is just two years longer that patients have to wait for this answer.”

Dr. David Charles adjusts the DBS neurotransmitters implanted in the chest of PD patient Wayne Webb, part of Vanderbilt University Medical Center's clinical trial testing the safety and tolerability of DBS in early PD. (Photo by Susan Urmy)

I’m hoping that some of the fellas who were in the control group will get consideration to be assigned to the surgical group this time so they can experience the benefits.  At any rate, if this thing does turn out to be a new standard of treatment for early PD and keeps things from getting worse, then all the sacrifice will have been worth it.  I’m proud to be one of the original 30, and I wish nothing but success for the next phase of this investigation.

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