Results from a pioneering clinical trials programme that delivered an experimental treatment directly to the brain offer hope that it may be possible to restore the cells damaged in Parkinson’s.

The multimillion-pound study, was funded by Parkinson’s UK with support from The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and a number of other funders including the Rosetrees Trust. The aim of the trial was to investigate whether boosting the levels of a naturally-occurring protein, Glial Cell Line Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF), can regenerate dying brain cells in people with Parkinson’s and reverse their condition, which is something that no existing treatment can do.

Robotic-assisted surgery was developed to inject GDNF directly into the affected part of the brain with pinpoint accuracy and reproducibility. The study showed that after 18 months there were significant improvements in symptoms compared to scores before they started the study offering encouragement that the treatment may have long-term beneficial effects, however, further studies are need to confirm these findings.

The findings from these trials are have been published in Brain and the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease and will be the feature of a two-part documentary series for BBC Two – The Parkinson’s Drug Trial: A Miracle Cure?