Home News Stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease reaches milestone

Stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease reaches milestone

parkinson's disease stem cell therapy

Stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease reaches milestone

6 March, 2023

The first of a total of eight patients with Parkinson’s disease has now received a stem cell transplant in the phase I/II STEM-PD clinical study. The treatment involves transplanting patients with new dopamine-producing stem cells to replace cells destroyed by the disease.

According to the WHO, disability and death due to Parkinson’s disease are increasing faster than for any other neurological disease. The incidence of Parkinson’s has doubled in the last 25 years and in 2019, over 8.5 million individuals were estimated to be living with the disease.

In Parkinson’s, the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine are destroyed, which leads to difficulties in controlling the body’s movements. Pharmaceuticals that replace the loss of dopamine tend to become less effective over time, as well as cause side effects. Since there are no treatments that can repair damaged structures in the brain or that can replace the degraded dopamine-producing nerve cells, interest in new methods has increased. One attracting attention is stem cell therapy.

New stem cell study recently initiated

As BioStock previously reported, a new phase I/II stem cell therapy study in Parkinson’s disease was recently given the green light by the Swedish Medical Products Agency. Read more here. The study is led by researchers at Lund University in collaboration with Skåne University Hospital, University of Cambridge, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College, London. The stem cell therapy is based on a collaboration and scientific studies that have been ongoing for many years and goes by the name STEM-PD.

Both preclinical and clinical research have received financial support from, among others, Scandinavia’s largest pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, with whom the research groups also collaborate on future product development.

The study evaluates the safety of the therapy and how well it is tolerated by patients, such as possible side effects or reactions that occur as a result of treatment.

The intention is to investigate whether transplanted dopamine-forming neurons generated from embryonic stem cells can form new functional dopamine neurons in the patient’s brain after transplantation. By replacing the nerve cells lost during the disease with new, healthy neurons, the researchers hope to restore dopamine levels in the brain.

The first stem cell transplant has been carried out

The first patient has now received new stem cells and the location of the cells has been confirmed with brain imaging and an evaluation is ongoing. After transplantation, the transplanted cells mature into functional neurons in the brain. The results of the STEM-PD product can be expected after a few years, at the earliest. Swedish broadcasting service SVT interviewed the first treated patient, watch here (in Swedish).

The patients who will participate in the study have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease for at least ten years with moderately severe symptoms. The researchers will follow the patients continuously to evaluate cell survival and potential efficacy. Only when sufficient data is available and analysed, the research team will present these. It is not possible to register to enrol in the study.

More information about the study and the cells used in the study: www.stem-pd.org

Also read: Saliva samples detects early signs of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (March 2, 2023)

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