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"This is promising research but we need to know how long these benefits of gene therapy might last," said Michelle Gardner, research development manager at Parkinson's U.K. She was not linked to the study. "We don't know if there could be long-term consequences of introducing viruses into the brain."
In an accompanying commentary in the Lancet, Michael Hutchinson of New York University School of Medicine questioned whether gene therapy offers any advantages over deep brain stimulation, which has been used to treat Parkinson's disease for about a decade.
Walter Liskiewicz, a former oral surgeon in Michigan with the disease, could barely move before receiving the gene therapy in 2009 as part of the experiment.
Now, he plays jazz music and recently returned from a holiday in Brazil. "Everything was taken away from me and to just have them handed back is pretty special," he said. "It's like a miracle."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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