Pioneering Surgery a Success; PARKINSON'S DISEASE: Victim, 63, Can Walk Again after Experimental Operation
Byline: CATRIN WILLIAMS
BRIAN Webb is the human face of a pioneering surgical procedure which could provide a breakthrough in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
The 63-year-old, from Penmaen, near Blackwood, struggled to sleep, walk and carry on with his daily life when the debilitating illness began to ravage his body 10 years ago.
Now the grandfather-of-eight is one of five sufferers in the UK to receive surgery only previously tested on an American monkey.
It has given Mr Webb a new lease of life, and if further trials are successful, the treatment could become more widely available in the next four to five years.
"I am very pleased with it, " he said. "I noticed three to four weeks after the operation that different things were getting slightly better.
"I now sleep like a log for four or five hours and then get up and have a walk - I can walk a few miles now. I can even do up my laces."
Mr Webb, whose wife June died a year before the operation, agreed to undergo experimental treatment by doctors at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, two years ago.
Yesterday, the medical team led by consultant neurosurgeon Dr Steven Gill said it could be a way of reversing the brain's deterioration and restoring movement in patients with Parkinson's Disease.
Although treatment with the drug levodopa can restore almost normal movement in many patients with early Parkinson's Disease, the treatment gradually loses effectiveness as the disease progresses.
But Dr Steven Gill's team now believe they can reverse the degenerative effects of the disease by using GDNF - a growth factor essential to the development of the nerve cells which use a chemical called dopamine to transmit impulses from the brain to the muscles. …