This is the first time in the world that it gives hope to people with Parkinson's disease. On Friday, November 9, researchers at Kyoto University in Japan said in a statement that they successfully transplanted 2.4 million iPS stem cells into the left brain of a patient with Parkinson's disease. "induced pluripotent stem cells" or, in French, induced pluripotent cells).
The operation, which occurred last month, lasted three hours, the medical team says. The patient, a man in his fifties, was well tolerated. He will now be under surveillance for two years. If no problem appears within six months, doctors will deploy an additional 2.4 million additional stem cells, this time on the right side of the patient's brain.
Stem cells, pluripotent
The second most common neurodegenerative disease of the nervous system after Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease affects about 200,000 people in France and more than one million in Europe: 8,000 new cases are reported each year in France. According to the US Parkinson's Disease Foundation, the world has 10 million Parkinson's patients.
Characterized by a progressive loss of neurons in the gray nuclei of the brain, Parkinson's disease causes a gradual loss of movement control and the onset of other motor symptoms such as limb tremor and stiffness. Currently, available treatments "improve symptoms but do not slow the progression of the disease," says Parkinson's Disease Foundation.
This new treatment with iPS stem cells from healthy donors offers new hope to patients. In fact, the latter have the distinction of being pluripotent: by being transplanted into the brain, they are able to develop neurons that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in controlling motor skills.
A clinical trial in seven patients announced
This successful essay by Japanese scientists probably will not be the last. Last July, Kyoto University announced that a clinical trial would be launched with seven participants aged 50-69 years. "I salute the patients for their courageous and determined participation," said Professor Jun Takahashi, quoted by the public television channel NHK on Friday.
This clinical trial itself is based on an experiment carried out on monkeys with human stem cells, and reported in an article in the journal Nature in August 2017. According to the researchers, this transplant improved the ability of primates with a form of Parkinson's make moves. The survival of the grafted cells, by injection into the primate brain, was observed for two years without any tumor appearance.
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