Safety and tolerability of gene therapy with an adeno-associated virus (AAV) borne GAD gene for Parkinson's disease: an open label, phase I trial.Lancet. 2007 Jun 23; 369(9579):2097-105.Lct
Dopaminergic neuronal loss in Parkinson's disease leads to changes in the circuitry of the basal ganglia, such as decreased inhibitory GABAergic input to the subthalamic nucleus. We aimed to measure the safety, tolerability, and potential efficacy of transfer of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) gene with adeno-associated virus (AAV) into the subthalamic nucleus of patients with Parkinson's disease.
We did an open label, safety and tolerability trial of unilateral subthalamic viral vector (AAV-GAD) injection in 11 men and 1 woman with Parkinson's disease (mean age 58.2, SD=5.7 years). Four patients received low-dose, four medium-dose, and four high-dose AAV-GAD at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Inclusion criteria consisted of Hoehn and Yahr stage 3 or greater, motor fluctuations with substantial off time, and age 70 years or less. Patients were assessed clinically both off and on medication at baseline and after 1, 3, 6, and 12 months at North Shore Hospital. Efficacy measures included the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), scales of activities of daily living (ADL), neuropsychological testing, and PET imaging with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose. The trial is registered with the ClinicalTrials.gov registry, number NCT00195143.
All patients who enrolled had surgery, and there were no dropouts or patients lost to follow-up. There were no adverse events related to gene therapy. Significant improvements in motor UPDRS scores (p=0.0015), predominantly on the side of the body that was contralateral to surgery, were seen 3 months after gene therapy and persisted up to 12 months. PET scans revealed a substantial reduction in thalamic metabolism that was restricted to the treated hemisphere, and a correlation between clinical motor scores and brain metabolism in the supplementary motor area.
AAV-GAD gene therapy of the subthalamic nucleus is safe and well tolerated by patients with advanced Parkinson's disease, suggesting that in-vivo gene therapy in the adult brain might be safe for various neurodegenerative diseases.