A Japanese research team announced that it will begin clinical trials with humans for new Parkinson's treatment.
On Monday, a team from the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application of Kyoto University announced that it would test the new human treatment on successful rounds of animal testing. The injected treatment uses stem cells to help patients with Parkinson's disease and received government approval.
Parkinson's disease affects around 10 million people around the world, including one million in the United States. Parkinson's disease reduces neurons in the brain that produce dopamine. This cell loss causes tremors in the feet and hands. It also causes stiffness in one's body. There are treatments for these symptoms, but the scientists could not find a cure. This treatment could be a groundbreaking option for patients with Parkinson's disease.
The team plans to inject induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) into the patient's brains. The five million injected cells have the potential to develop into any cell in the body ̵
Monkeys were used in the last round of trials. Over two years of observation, the scientists found that the movement of monkeys with Parkinson's disease improved and no tumors were developed in the brain that could become cancerous.
The study is led by physicians who monitor the efficacy and safety of the trial. It starts on Aug. 1 with seven patients and is open only to those who live in Japan and have Japanese insurance. While iPS cells can be made from their own cells so that they are less likely to be rejected by the patient's body, the cells in this study were created by third-party donors. Patients receive tacrolimus, an immunosuppressive drug that can prevent cell rejection.
Using stereotactic brain surgery, a way to inject something into the brain and has been used in Parkinson's treatments in the Past, the team can ensure placing the iPS cells in the left and right side of the patient's putamen. The putamen regulates movements and influences learning in humans.
iPSCs could also be used in other conditions such as heart failure and age-related macular degeneration.