Parkinson’s: Dopamine is injected directly into the brain

The teams at Lille University Hospital are currently conducting an unprecedented clinical trial called DIVE. Based on injections of dopamine into the brain, this treatment would reduce traditional medications and limit side effects.

Delphine Renault

written on updated

Parkinson’s: a promising new treatment —
The health magazine – France 5

57-year-old Eric Feurtet suffers from Parkinson’s disease. For 10 years his days have been punctuated by medication: oral dopamine to relieve his pain and stiffness. “My meds help release dopamine because it’s solid. I have to take these meds 7-8 times a day.”he explains.

In recent months, his treatments have become less and less effective. “I was in such a state of dyskinesia that if someone had said to me, ‘We’re going to cut off your leg to make you feel better,’ I couldn’t have taken it anymore. When you have Parkinson’s, you have pain all the time, which is manageable, but sometimes there are spikes in pain.”confides in Éric Feutet.

Relieving the symptoms of the disease

His neurologist offered him to participate in a research protocol that involves injecting dopamine directly into the brain. The hypothesis: more effective symptom relief. And it’s a success for Éric Feutet. After a month’s hiatus, he returns to the hospital for another injection. “As soon as the dopamine was taken away I was in pain right away so it was as bad as before with a lot of dyskinesia, a lot of pain and side effects”says Eric.

These disorders originate in two specific areas of the brain located at the top of the brainstem: the substantia nigra and the striatum. These areas communicate through a network of neurons that exchange information via a chemical messenger called dopamine. This regulates the activity of neurons that control muscles and movement.

Also read: Parkinson’s disease: a treatment to improve sleep quality

Dopamine is injected as needed

“The substantia nigra, which is normally filled with dopaminergic neurons, is an area that degenerates in Parkinson’s disease, causing a lack of dopamine in the striatum. The idea is to deliver through a fine catheter into a small water bag next door. dopamine drips straight into the striatum’, explains Professor David Devos, neurologist and pharmacologist at Lille University Hospital. According to him, this addition of dopamine improves more than 50% of symptoms.

The catheter is connected to a pump that is placed at abdominal level. The latter is used to inject dopamine. The molecule oxidizes in air and loses its effectiveness. To avoid any risk of degradation, it is injected without oxygen.

The pump will then be programmed to release dopamine according to Éric Feurtet’s needs for a week, after which he should begin to feel the benefits. Only 5 patients are currently participating in this protocol.

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