Researchers from Kyoto University in Japan started a clinical trial this month to treat Parkinson’s disease with reprogrammed stem cells. This follows the successful restoration of brain cell function in monkeys using these stem cells reported last year.

Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the loss of a specific type of neuron in the brain, called dopaminergic neurons, which make the essential neurotransmitter dopamine. The reduced dopamine levels lead to motor skill decline, causing the characteristic trembling and difficulty walking. Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Therapies to help relieve symptoms include lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, physical therapy), taking a drug to increase dopamine levels in the brain, and deep brain stimulation surgery to electrically inactivate the brain portions responsible for motor symptoms.

However, adding neural progenitor cells, which are derived from reprogrammed stem cells, back into the patients’ brains might replace the lost neurons and cure the disease. In monkey brains, the neural progenitor cells differentiated into dopaminergic neurons and survived for up to two years. Motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease also improved after treating the monkeys.

To make the replacement dopaminergic neurons, mature adult cells (usually from the skin or blood) were treated to revert back to being stem cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). At this point, the iPSCs can be reprogrammed to become many types of cells. In this case, they were turned into dopaminergic neural progenitor cells, which specifically develop into dopaminergic neurons. Using iPSCs rather than stem cells from human embryos means this treatment would be potentially available in countries that ban the use of embryonic stem cells, such as Ireland, Italy, and most African and South American countries.

Patient recruitment for this trial began this month. Seven patients will be recruited, treated with neural progenitor cells via direct injection into the brain, and studied for 2 years post-injection. Because there is a chance the immune system would react adversely to the injected cells, patients will be given a common immunosuppressant drug (Tacrolimus) during cell injection. Although the procedure in this trial requires brain surgery, it will hopefully be a long-term, effective solution.

 

Managing Correspondent: Chelsea Weidman Burke

Press Article: Trial Launched to Treat Parkinson’s with Reprogrammed Stem Cells. The Scientist.

Japan scientists to use ‘reprogrammed’ stem cells to fight Parkinson’s. Reuters.

First-of-its-kind clinical trial will use reprogrammed adult stem cells to treat Parkinson’s. Science.

Press Release: Doctor-Driven Clinical Trial on Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Using iPS Cell Derived Dopamine Neural Progenitor Cells. Kyoto University.

Original Journal Article: Human iPS cell-derived dopaminergic neurons function in a primate Parkinson’s disease model. Nature.

Image Credit: Pixabay

14 thoughts on “World’s first clinical trial to treat Parkinson’s disease with stem cells

  1. HI, can you please let me know about your trail program. I am 68 years old diagnosed with Parkinson’s five years ago.

  2. I am an active 80 year old and had stem cell therapy at the Riordin Clinic in South Lake ,Texas that kept me from a knee replacement one year ago in August. I am having symptoms of Parkinson’s which my mother had. Internal trembling and weak legs–I am in good health otherwise. I am interested in stem cell therapy for this disease. I have had a brain MRI and have an appointment with a neurologist who will make the final diagnosis. All the tests so far have been normal. Please advise me of what is available.
    Thank you,
    Barbara

  3. I am 65 years male diagnosed with PD a year ago, I have tremor in right hand and stiffness in lower extremities right side more than left sides. I am not taking any medications at this time and doing some physical exercises. Looks like my symptoms are increasing day by day. I am interested in stem cell therapy to treat my PD.

  4. I’m inquiring for my brother. He is 51 years old and had no systems until last year he was hospitalized for a break out on his face that the hospital never determined what it was. After the treatment he recieved for this after released from the hospital he began to notice that his left hand hand the tremors. He now has sever tremors in both hands, can’t tastes nor smell anything, and shuffles his feet when he walks. Dramatic change in his health in just a few short months. He has not been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he was diagnosed with tremors. We had a Aunt and Uncle who both passed away with Parkinson’s. He has no medical insurance.

  5. My mother is suffering from parkinson’s disease since 16 years, she is now 70 years old. I am interested in the stem cell therapy for my mother.

  6. I am male 42 with cerebellar atrophy due to dilantin medication for very long period of time. My problems . Left hand trembling.speech problem, concentration problem, memory problem so on…any stem cell treatment will help me?

  7. I am a 64 year old female diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 5 years ago. I have taken different strengths and kinds of levodopa/corpodova. Pills,capsules, time release. Stronger medication more side effects. Left side afflicted. Tremors, shuffling, toes curling, striatal deformity of left hand/fingers and foot. Very interested in stem cell.

  8. Hello.My father is 58 years old.He is parkinson 6 years old.He has been Parkinson’s disease for six years.Very interested in stem cell.You help me please

  9. I am a 53 year old female diagnosed with Parkinson’s in my early thirties. I have slowly deteriorated. I am still able to walk , but I have a lot of Tremors and dyskinesias as well as occasional dystonias. I am out on disability from my profession which was in the medical field and I’m devastated not to be living my dream of helping others. I helped others with this condition ever since I was a teenager. I am extremely interested in embryonic stem cell therapy.

  10. My sister is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, she is 62 years old. She was diagnosed about 2 years ago she has to have a walker she shuffles her feet when walking. She has to have help to sit down, to stand up and to walk. Her speech is very slurred. She has tremers, she is currantly on medication that has side effects. She is very interested in stem cell therapy.
    Please any help would be greatly appreciated.

  11. My mom is suffering with parkinson’s disease. She is 78 years old. She was diagnosed 4 years ago. All motor functions are affected now. I saved my son’s cord blood. I’m not sure if it could be used for that. She would be very interested in a clinical trial for stem cell therapy.
    Any information would be helpful

  12. Hi,
    It seems to be a very good news,creating strong hopes.
    I am 35 year old female and suffering from parkinson for the last 8years.
    Do you have any idea when this mthod could be actualy used,if successful.
    Thanks and best of luck to you all.

  13. Hi. My Name is JoAnn. I developed Parkinson’s due to neurological Lyme disease. I just turned 63 and I’m in good physical condition. I would love to take part in a stem cell clinical trial. There are so many promising treatments on the horizon. God bless.

  14. Hi i am 41 year male with pd .i will love to be cured from this disease .my body get stiff on left side. Please let me know if this can cure me.

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