Shedding light on treatment of Parkinson's disease
Date: 2020-10-31
Source: SHINE
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Shedding light on treatment of Parkinsons disease

Li Qian / SHINE

French-Algerian neurosurgeon Alim-Louis Benabid introduces a new light therapy to treat Parkinson's disease at the WLF Frontier Lecture.

French-Algerian neurosurgeon Alim-Louis Benabid introduced a new light therapy to treat Parkinson's disease on Saturday at the WLF Frontier Lecture during the third World Laureates Forum.

Benabid has revolutionized the treatment of Parkinson’s by developing deep brain stimulation (DBS), a surgical procedure to implant a pacemaker-like device in patients to send electrical impulses to affected regions to improve functions. It gained him the 2014 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award.

To date, DBS is still the most effective surgical treatment for Parkinson’s. But Benabid has realized its shortcomings over years of practice.

Parkinson's is a progressive nervous system disorder caused by a loss of nerve cells that affects movement. A typical neurodegeneration disease, it gets worse with time, and the progress is irreversible.

Symptoms often start with tremors, and then slow movement, stiffness and loss of balance appear. DBS effectively relieves the symptoms, but it can’t stop the progressive loss and even death of neurons.

Benabid has turned to neuroprotection, a cutting-edge field aiming to protect the nervous system from damage.

Though it can’t reverse existing brain damage, it is believed to be able to protect against further nerve damage and slow down the degeneration in brain. It is therefore considered a promising solution for neurological disease.

Benabid designed a light therapy in which an illumination device linked to a fiber optic cable is implanted in the brain to deliver pulses of near-infrared (NIR) light directly to the affected brain regions in Parkinson’s patients.

Preclinical trials on the new treatment are planned to be carried out this month, Benabid said.

If it is proved to be a better treatment, it could replace DBS, he said.

Source: SHINE   Editor: Cai Wenjun