Japanese researchers have last week transplanted stem cells into a patient’s brain as part of an experimental therapy for Parkinson’s disease. The team at Kyoto University used induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells for their procedure. These iPS cells have the capacity to turn into any cell in the body.
Stem cells - 3d illustration. Image Credit: Giovanni Cancemi / Shutterstock
For the study they found a male patient of Parkinson’s disease in his fifties who agreed for this experiment. After the operation where the cells were injected last month, the man was stable. He will now be followed up for two years before conclusive information regarding the safety and efficacy of the procedure can be ascertained say the researchers. At the first round the team injected 2.4 million iPS cells onto his left side of the brain in a three hour long operation.
Over the next six months, he would be monitored closely and if no harm is noted another 2.4 million iPS cells would be implanted onto the right side of the brain. These iPS cells come from healthy donors and are expected to develop into dopamine-producing brain cells that have been damaged in the patient’s own brain.
A total of seven patients between ages 50 and 69 have been included for this study. Kyoto University professor Jun Takahashi thanked the participants for volunteering to participante in this study. This human study follows earlier successful trials on monkeys explain the researchers.
“By also cooperating with companies, we want to develop a mass production system that enables us to deliver nerve cells derived from iPS cells to all over the world,” said Jun Takahashi, a professor at the university’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application who led the research team, at a news conference. He elaborated on the process of the three-hour operation he performed, "we made a hole in the frontal part of the left side of the head and transplanted some 2.4 million cells, adding that the patient smiled with relief after the operation."
If successful this could revolutionize Parkinson’s disease treatment say experts. This disease of the brain and nerves affects around 10 million people worldwide and at present it is incurable with treatment available to just curb the symptoms for a period of time.