Stem Cells Transplanted to the Brain to Treat Parkinson's | nbsp | & nbspCredit with photo: & nbspThinkstock
Tokyo: Japanese researchers said on Friday they transplanted stem cells into a patient's brain in the first stage of an innovative test to cure Parkinson's disease. The team at Kyoto University has injected pluripotent cell (iPS) cells – which have the potential to develop in any cell of the body – into the brain of a male patient in his 50s, the university said in a statement.
The man was stable after the operation, which was carried out last month, and now he will be monitored for two years, the university added. The researchers injected 2.4 million iPS cells into the left side of the patient's brain in an operation that lasted about three hours.
If no problem is observed in the next six months, they will deploy another 2.4 million cells on the right side. Healthy donor iPS cells were grown in precursors of dopamine-producing brain cells, which are no longer present in people with Parkinson's disease.
The operation came after the university announced in July that it would conduct the study with seven participants aged 50-69. It is the first involving the implantation of stem cells in the brain to cure Parkinson's disease.
"I appreciate the patients for participating in the test with courage and determination," Jun Takahashi, a professor at Kyoto University, told reporters on Friday, according to NHK.
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative and chronic neurological disorder that affects the body's motor system, often causing tremors and other movement difficulties. Around the world, about 10 million people have the disease, according to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.
The currently available therapies "improve symptoms without slowing or stopping the progression of the disease," the foundation says. The human test comes after a previous test involving monkeys.
Researchers announced last year that primates with Parkinson's symptoms regained significant mobility once iPS cells were inserted into their brains.
They also confirmed that iPS cells did not turn into tumors during the two years after implantation. IPS cells are created by stimulating mature, already specialized cells back to the juvenile stage – basically cloning without the need for an embryo.
Cells can be transformed into a variety of different cell types, and their use is a key sector of medical research.