The ongoing research regarding stem cell therapy and Parkinson’s disease has earned a high profile among scientists and patients alike who are eager to determine exactly how stem cells can combat such a devastating disease. International Stem Cell Corp. has added its name to the groups who are testing Parkinson’s disease therapy, and on November 15 the company happily announced that the stem cell-based treatment has shown itself to be safe.
Parkinson’s Disease: Chronic and Degenerative
This neurological disorder impacts 1 in 100 people over the age of 60, although some patients are diagnosed as young as age 40. Parkinson’s is a chronic and progressive disorder that usually becomes more severe with time. It begins when vital nerve cells in the brain called neurons malfunction and die, depriving the body of the dopamine needed to control normal movements. The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include tremors of the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face, slowness of movement, stiffness of limbs, and impaired coordination.
International Stem Cell Corp.’s Safety Test
According to the company’s executive vice president and chief scientific officer, Russell Kern, the first patient in the Phase 1 clinical trial, which was conducted in Australia, demonstrated no signs of complications after three months. Kern also mentioned a significant development- after only a few months, the patient’s handwriting had improved. However, that bit of progress needs to be confirmed and studied with the other patients scheduled to be treated.
In all, 12 patients will be treated in the next few months, with the ultimate goal of determining how safe stem cell treatment is for those with Parkinson’s. If this study can confirm the absence of threat of harm in Parkinson’s stem cell treatments, it will open up a whole new world of medicine.
International Stem Cell Corp’s therapy addresses the fact that Parkinson’s destroys neurons and, as a result, dopamine, by replacing the lost neurons with new cells that are grown from unfertilized or parthenogenetic human egg cells. They act like embryonic stem cells that can be differentiated into cells that produce dopamine and, theoretically, reverse symptoms of Parkinson’s disease safely.
The Battle Against Parkinson’s Strengthens
International Stem Cell Corp isn’t the only company dedicating itself to fight the impacts of Parkinson’s disease. Cyto Therapeutics is conducting a clinical trial in Australia because the government’s regulatory system allows work to proceed quickly. They hope to complete a Phase 2 trial in the United States. In addition, a San Diego group named Summit for Stem Cells is exploring the potential to use artificial embryonic stem cells to treat patients. Since artificial embryonic stem cells are created from induced pluripotent stem cells, this treatment concept can harness the incredible power of embryonic stem cells without causing an ethical controversy.