Stem cells transplanted in the brain to treat Parkinson's & nbsp | & nbspPhoto Credit: & nbspThinkstock
Tokyo: Japanese researchers said on Friday that they have transplanted stem cells in the brain of a patient in the first stage of an innovative study to cure Parkinson's disease. The research group at Kyoto University injected induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells – which have the potential to develop into any cell in the body – in the brain of a male patient in the fifties, the university said in a press release.
The man was stable after the surgery, conducted last month, and he will now be supervised for two years, added the university. The researchers injected 2.4 million iPS cells on the left side of the patient's brain, in an operation that took about three hours.
If no problems are observed over the next six months, they will implant another 2.4 million cells on the right side. The IPS cells from healthy donors have developed into the precursors of dopamine-producing brain cells, which are no longer present in people with Parkinson's disease.
The operation came after the university's announcement in July they would carry out the trial with seven participants aged 50-69. It is the first to involve the implantation of stem cells in the brain to cure Parkinson's.
"I appreciate patients to participate in the trial with courage and determination," told Kyoto professor Jun Takahashi on reporters on Friday, according to public broadcaster NHK.
Parkinson's disease is a chronic degenerative neurological disorder that affects the body's engine system, which often causes shaking and other difficulty in movement. Around 10 million people worldwide have the disease, according to Parkinson's disease foundation.
Currently available therapies "improve symptoms without slowing down or stopping disease progression," says the foundation. The human trial comes after an earlier attempt with monkeys.
Researchers announced last year that primates with Parkinson's symptoms recovered significant mobility after iPS cells were introduced into their brains.
They also confirmed that the iPS cells had not been converted into tumors over the two years after the implant. iPS cells are created by stimulating mature, already specialized cells back into a youthful state-basically cloning without the need for an embryo.
The cells can be transformed into a number of different types of cells, and their use is a key sector for medical research.