Dad Bryn starts trial to find cure for Parkinson’s

Bryn Williams
Bryn Williams

Bryn Williams received his first treatment last week in a groundbreaking trial which aims to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease.

Bearsden man Bryn set up the Wobbly Williams website and blog after he was diagnosed with the condition in 2007, at the age of 36.

The married dad-of-two also set up the charity, Funding Neuro, to support research into a possible cure for Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders.

Now he is one of 30 patients in this trial which is being conducted by neurosurgeon Professor Steven Gill, based at Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital.

He underwent a risky operation last year which saw holes being drilled into his head so tubes could be placed in his brain.

The research aims to find out the effect of delivering the protein Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor directly into the brain through tubes.

Fifteen patients will receive a placebo while the others will be given the drug - to discover whether the specially designed delivery port could help improve symptoms such as stiffness, slowness of movement and tremors.

Bryn had three detailed brain scans to take precise measurements to enable four tubes to be inserted into his brain last December in a five and a half hour operation.

He said: “I knew there was a risk involved but to be honest I’d bite your hand off for the chance of another five years.”

The infusion of drugs was delivered for the first time to Bryn’s brain last Friday, August 8, at Frenchay Hospital.

Bryn doesn’t know whether he will be given the real thing or a placebo.

He said: “Either way, in eighteen months time we will know if this trial has worked, and whether or not GDNF is a disease modifying treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

“I will know whether my goal of walking my little girls down the aisle (whether they want to get married or not!) will happen.

“This next eighteen months will decide whether it’s dad or no dad for them.

“Of course I wish I had never had Parkinson’s. And I’m quite sure there are many people who have to listen to me chunter on about it, wish the same. But you play the cards you’re dealt, and, in my view, I made the best of it.

“As an individual, I have pushed myself more than I would ever have thought possible, and I have met people who have become giants in my life.

“As a team we have played our part in changing the perception of Parkinson’s, advancing medical science for curing Parkinson’s and laughed heartily at the expense of Parkinson’s.

“I really hope Dr James Parkinson is extremely pissed off with us. To my mind he is the Scooby Doo villain and we are the pesky kids that prevent him from getting away with it.

“The trial fills me with hope, genuine hope. This is not the plastic hope which I generated to keep myself going in the early days. This is the hope of others. Real people, credible people not interested in, or prone to, exaggeration. And today I share this hope, because tomorrow I can’t.

“Once this trial starts, I can’t discuss it with anyone other than my medical team in case I influence the outcome of the trial.”

Bryn’s movement, mental agility and reaction will be measured in detail over the next eighteen months.

But as far as Bryn’s concerned there is only one 
definitive test - his three dart average throwing right-handed.

He hasn’t thrown right-handed in anger since 2007, when he switched to left-handed throwing before walking the West Highland Way to raise funds for Funding Neuro.

The charity also aims to pay for a trial of the Bristol delivery system to cure children of brain tumours.