EVENT – On Thursday 9th June, the founder of Clinatec, Professor Alim-Louis Benabid, from Grenoble, was awarded the 2016 European Inventor Award, in the research category, for his work on deep brain stimulation. A discovery that has enabled the development of a brain pacemaker for Parkinson’s patients. The result of a scientific journey, marked by a struggle of almost 30 years, against Parkinson’s disease.
Awarded the 2016 European Inventor prize, on 9th June, in Lisbon, for his work on deep brain stimulation, Grenoble’s Professor Alim-Louis Benabid has already received a number of other medals.
The most prominent ? The 2014 Albert Lasker Foundation prize – often described as the final hurdle before the Nobel – on the basis of “the great benefit this discovery has brought to mankind.”
It must be said that this engineer and physician, member of the Academy of Sciences, president of the board of executives of the Grenoble research centre, Clinatec, has revolutionized the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
Electrical stimulation to stop tremor
Along with his colleague, Pierre Pollak, his discovery of deep brain stimulation (DBS) at the end of the 1980s, announced the transformation of the brain, using technology. By inserting electrodes into a dysfunctional area of the brain, 100 Hz of electrical stimulation stopped the tremors of a patient, in an astonishing way. A discovery by Serendipity, immediately transformed into a medical application.
Thus, neuro-stimulation – another name for DBS – enabled the development of a brain pacemaker that has radically revolutionised the lives of more than 200,000 patients, suffering with Parkinson’s disease, worldwide.
Tremors, rigidity, and even the akinesia, i.e., the slowness of initiation of movement, are finished. Pr Benabid, who has managed to free Parkinson’s patients of their movement disorders, also loved being able to cure them.
In fact, DBS desynchronises the electrical functioning of nerve cells – or neurons – the subthalamic nucleus in the parkinsonian brain, but the implantation of electrodes does not prevent the evolution of the pathology – in other words, the untimely death of neurons. Therefore, beyond a certain percentage of apoptose – or cellular suicide, the DBS can do nothing more for patients ; magnified symptoms re-emerge in time.
However, the neurosurgeon from Grenoble has not said his last word. He now oversees Clinatec research on the prevention technology of neurological degeneration in Parkinson’s disease, using light : the NIR project (Near Infrared). Confident in the result of this research, the national association, France Parkinson, donated 130,000 euros to Pr Benabid in 2011, for the launch of the research project.
Traduction from Speak English Center
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