New delivery system gives Parkinson's patients better quality of life

The Birmingham News in Alabama updates us on a new drug delivery system for Parkinson's disease being tested at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and other sites. The delivery system is a pump that sends medication continuously into the small intestine. The breakthrough, the researchers report, is a gel that protects the drug to prevent rapid breakdown normally caused by contact with water. This helps take care of what Parkinson's patients call "off" time--usually a re-emergence of symptoms after they begin taking their medication.

The trial update was provided by UAB's David Standaert last week at a meeting last week of the Movement Disorder Society. Providing a powerful testimonial was Mac Stinson, a Parkinson's patient taking part in the trials who said the new drug delivery system made his spasms less severe. Before the trials, Stinson was suffering from severe, daily muscle spasms in his hands, feet and the back of his neck. The neck spasms would pull his face up toward the sky, the paper reports. Now, after a year-and-a-half on the pump, Stinson has experienced only about 10 spasms.

"This is a pretty exciting new treatment," Standaert said, adding that the patients reported a "very impressive improvement in the quality of life."

The intestinal gel, being developed by Abbott, allows delivery through a pump so that a steady level of drugs stay in the bloodstream throughout the day, avoiding spikes that cause problems. It's worked so well, The Birmingham News reports, that Stinson is again playing some guitar--classic rock, country and western--and singing in his local church.

- read the story in The Birmingham News