HOPE for a Ramsbury woman who suffers from Parkinson’s disease has been taken away after a drug company has pulled out of developing a new drug treatment that dramatically improved her health.

Karin Clemens-Cowan, 66, (or Klem as she is known to friends and family) underwent brain surgery in Bristol to receive glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) – a naturally-occurring protein, known as a ‘growth factor’.

Surgeons injected the chemical directly into the part of her brain where the cells that control movement were dying to regenerate them.

“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2002,” she said, “and for the first 10 years I could live with it but after a while I had to give up work and retire and also give up sport and anything that required intricate work because of the shaking.”

However, Klem did see improvements when she took part in a trial funded by Parkinson support charities at the Southmead Hospital in Bristol and featured in a documentary BBC2, The Parkinson’s Drug Trial: A Miracle Cure, currently on i-player.

The trial involved more than 40 sufferers with some given a placebo and others GDNF over 18 months with dramatic effects including for Klem a near return to normality.

“I went from a level of 44 for the disease to nine,” she explained, “and I began to get my sense of smell back. I was on holiday and I walked past an open window and I could smell frying bacon and eggs for the first time for years.”

After the trial ended in 2017 the improvements Klem experienced began to disappear. Pfizer has declined to fund a further clinical trial and Parkinson’s UK are looking into finding another drugs company to fund the next stage. 145,000 people in the UK suffer from the disease.

The doctors involved in the trial led by neurosurgeon Professor Steven Gill saw major improvements in all the guinea pigs as Klem called them, but none in the placebo group.

The trial she took part in is currently featured in a two-part documentary series on BBC2, The Parkinson’s Drug Trial: A Miracle Cure?, available on i-player.

Sadly Pizer have declined to financially support a more extensive clinical trial with a view to creating a future treatment. Parkinson’s UK are looking into finding another drugs company to fund the next stage of the potential cure for the 145,000 people with the disease in the UK and millions worldwide.