Brain cells under a microscope

First trial of stem cells for Parkinson's announced

Date

California-based company, the International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCO), has announced the first clinical trials of a stem cell treatment for Parkinson's.

People with Parkinson's don't have enough of the chemical dopamine, because some of the brain cells that produce this chemical have died.

For people with Parkinson's, the hope is that we will be able to grow new brain cells from stem cells and use these to replace the cells that are lost.

About the trial

The trial will take place in Melbourne, Australia, and is set to involve 12 people with moderate to severe Parkinson's. It will last for 12 months.

During the trial, doctors will transplant replacement brain cells, grown from stem cells, into participants' brains.

This new trial will be looking at the safety of this new therapeutic approach.

Further details about the study can be found on the clinicaltrials.gov website.

Experts raise questions

World-leading scientific experts, including Parkinson's UK researcher Professor Roger Barker from the University of Cambridge, have warned it is still early days in an article in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease.

"As with many such exiting news items, one should react with caution," he said.

"Especially since the outcome of this trial can affect the development of other stem cell programmes moving towards clinical trials."

We’ll be watching progress closely

Claire Bale, Head of Research Communications at Parkinson’s UK, said:

"We're encouraged to hear that approval has been given to do the first ever trial for stem cell treatment in people with Parkinson's.

"Stem cells carry real hope as a future treatment for the 127,000 people living with the condition in the UK. Parkinson's UK has invested more than £3 million in cutting edge stem cell research to help develop new and better treatments for Parkinson's, faster.

"With all clinical trials, ensuring that the treatment is safe and effective is paramount and along with the international research community we will be watching the progress of the trial very closely.

"If successful this could be the beginning to further, much larger studies with stem cells – taking us closer to a new potential treatment for Parkinson’s."