1. ITV Report

New hope for Parkinson's disease

Sheila Roy has been receiving the pioneering treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge Photo: ITV Anglia

A woman from Bedforshire who has Parkinson’s disease can write for the first time in 15 years after receiving gene therapy.

Sheila Roy has been receiving the pioneering treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

She is one of 15 people taking part in the test which involves having corrective genes injected into the brain.

The genes provide the coded instructions for proteins needed to make dopamine, a brain chemical essential for proper control of movement.

Lack of dopamine leads to the symptoms of tremor, stiffness and poor balance associated with Parkinson's.

"Early in 2011 I was rapidly deteriorating. My medication was being less effective, there was increased involuntary movement, where I frequently hit myself but also other people, and had a four second switch from extreme movement to being 'off' and very still. This lasted for some time, up to two hours and more and I could do nothing.

"These unpredictable shifts were like a 'Jekyll and Hyde' transition, and outside of my control. At night there was no relief as I had terrible nightmares, and often woke my husband up with screaming or punching him.

"Parkinson's disease changes the ability and capability of the individual affected. You lose confidence, dignity and hope. The ProSavin experience has restored my confidence, enabled better motor function and has given me hope. I can function more normally and, for the first time in 15 years, I can write."

– Sheila Roy, receiving treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge

Dr Philip Buttery, from the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair told Sky News that that whilst the treatment was still in its early stages the results look promising.

"It seems to be having an overall beneficial effect in smoothing out people's days, probably allowing a slight dose reduction in medication, and in some patients a better sleep pattern and a better quality of life for all."

– Dr Philip Buttery, Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair

Around 127,000 people in the UK suffer from Parkinson's. The disease usually affects those over the age of 50, but one in 20 patients is younger than 40.