Drug Trials (06:19)
Parkinson's is a progressive neural degenerative condition. Steven Gill and Alan Whone plan GDNF testing, which will include brain surgery on 42 volunteers in moderate stages. Tom Isaacs's diagnosis is 17-years-old; 72-year-old Ron Johnson is the oldest participant.
Getting to Parkinson's Trial (05:47)
Isaacs discusses daily struggles and disease progression. Gill's previous GDNF tests yielded positive results, but treatment halted after monkeys experienced brain damage. The resolution of safety issues has reopened human studies.
Screening Results (06:29)
Southmead Hospital places 42 volunteers in GDNF trials. Isaacs' disease is most advanced; he ceases medication, finding symptoms worse than anticipated. After assessment, Isaacs is accepted and all volunteers undergo MRI scans.
Experimental Brain Surgery (11:04)
GDNF trials are controversial. Doctors implant four catheters within the putamen to deliver a drug or a placebo; they use MRIs in conjunction with CT scans to create three dimensional tissue maps. All volunteers successfully endure operations.
Treatment Delivery Mechanism (03:59)
Ports over the ears must heal before GDNF can be administered to trial volunteers; Isaacs struggles with Parkinson's symptoms and daily scar cleanings. Experts at Bristol Hospital prepare infusions. Recipients are computer randomized and only the pharmacists know who gets drugs or placebos.
Doubt and Optimism (04:44)
In three months, Isaacs' port heals; volunteers receive their first infusions of GDNF or placebo. Families speculate on experimental surgery; doctors explain how the process validates trials. After several injections, some volunteers show improvements.
Serious Adverse Events (03:55)
Chris Brownbill suffers a stroke in December 2013; the ports of other volunteers do not fuse to bone, increasing the potential for infections. An independent committee for patient safety halts GDNF trials in January 2014.
Halfway Through Trails (05:54)
Experts deem it safe to restart GDNF trials; engineers devise stabilizing cylinders for loose ports. Some volunteers are convinced they receive placebos while others experience improvements. In September 2014, a major pharmaceutical company invests in the drug delivery system.
Credits: The Parkinson's Drug Trial - A Miracle Cure? Episode One (00:37)
Credits: The Parkinson's Drug Trial - A Miracle Cure? Episode One
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