(CBS News) A revolutionary new Parkinson's disease treatment is creating a buzz after a Sky News report showed a patient whp had the the disease for 17 years reverse the severity of her symptoms.
The treatment is a single injection therapy called ProSavin. Developed by scientists at OxfordBioMedica in the U.K., ProSavin is a shot to the brain that delivers genes for three different enzymes responsible for producing the neurotransmitter dopamine. Parkinson's occurs when nerve cells in the brain that make dopamine are gradually destroyed, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Sky News interviewed Sheila Roy, a woman who had been diagnosed with Parkinson's 17 years earlier while she was in her 40s.
"People would take knives off me in the kitchen because I was everywhere with the knife. My vocal cords would suddenly shut so I can't breathe," Roy said.
Less than a year after treatment, she's begun to reverse the severity of some symptoms. "I'm starting to see a glimmer of the person I used to be, which is exciting," she said.
The U.K. Press Association reports for the first time in 15 years, Roy can write with a pen.
Sky News reports the treatment has only been tried on 15 people worldwide. Commenting on the treatment, Roy's physician Dr. Philip Buttery, from the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair, says it's still early but the injection appears to be showing positive results in early trials.
"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," Buttery told Sky News.
Dr. Kieran Breen, director of research and innovation at Parkinson's UK, told the Huffington Post that there are three other gene therapy trials underway in addition to ProSavin.
"Now the challenge is to see whether they are more effective than the medications we already have for Parkinson's."
According to the Parkinson's disease Foundation, as many as one million Americans live with the disease with approximately 60,000 more diagnosed each year. Worldwide, an estimated seven to 10 million have Parkinson's. There are many medications available to treat symptoms, but currently no treatment reverses the disorder.
Here is a video on the treatment from Sky News: