IRVINE, CA -- (Marketwired) -- 08/12/13 -- MRI Interventions, Inc. (OTCQB: MRIC) today announced treatment of the first patient in a Phase I clinical trial utilizing uniQure B.V.'s glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) for treatment of Parkinson's disease. This gene therapy holds promise in the battle against the degenerative and debilitating disorder, which affects 1.5 million people in the United States. MRI Interventions' ClearPoint Neuro Intervention System is being used in the clinical trial to enable direct infusion of the gene therapy into an area of the brain affected by Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Krystof Bankiewicz, MD, PhD at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and Dr. John D. Heiss, MD at the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are leading the trial. uniQure B.V., a leader in human gene therapy, is providing the GDNF gene. uniQure made headlines last November by receiving regulatory approval in Europe of a first-in-class gene therapy to treat orphan diseases.
The hypothesis of the Parkinson's disease trial is that GDNF's neuro-regenerative and protective properties may protect and strengthen brain cells that produce dopamine, a chemical that affects brain function. In Parkinson's disease, dopamine production is reduced in an area of the brain responsible for movement, which leads to the debilitating symptoms experienced by many patients with the disease. The affected area is a tiny spot located deep within the brain, and the ClearPoint System provides the visualization and precision necessary to deliver a desired amount of the gene therapy directly to this very small target without disrupting other critical neurological structures in the process.
"The success of gene therapy in patients requires accuracy in delivery," said Dr. Krys Bankiewicz of UCSF. "The ClearPoint System enables this precision, with the safe and accurate infusion of our gene therapy product into a miniscule target in the brain while we observe the procedure and confirm results in real time."
"We are very pleased with our first patient procedure," Dr. Heiss stated. "The ClearPoint System worked exceptionally well, enabling us to achieve precision targeting into the putamen and to observe administration of the therapeutic agent as it occurred."
The ClearPoint navigation platform is the only technology to enable minimally-invasive neurosurgery under continuous MRI guidance, offering surgeons a direct view of the inside of a patient's brain during a procedure.
"We are delighted to be working with UC San Francisco, the National Institutes of Health and uniQure, to help advance a novel treatment for Parkinson's disease," said Kimble Jenkins, CEO of MRI Interventions.
"At uniQure we are convinced that success for gene therapy requires the most advanced and reliable delivery technologies," said uniQure CEO Jörn Aldag. "Together with our collaborators at UCSF, the NIH and MRI Interventions, we are paving the way to further advances in the treatment of Parkinson's Disease."
The study, sponsored by the NIH, is a Phase I open-label dose escalation safety study that will include 24 patients over 4 cohorts. The first patient was dosed on May 20 and there have been no safety issues.
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