Cure Parkinson's by transplanting nerve cells into brain? Japan approves clinical trial

human brain

A research team at Kyoto University in Japan has said that it will begin a clinical test on Wednesday to find a treatment for Parkinson's disease.

In the test, nerve cells derived from other people and stored at the university will be transplanted into the brains of patients to supplement damaged nerve cells.

Scientists are using pluripotent stem cells in the research. These iPS cells, discovered by Shinya Yamanaka, have the ability to develop into any type of body tissue. These are seen as a promising tool for regenerative medicine and drug development.

The team is being led by Jun Takahashi, a professor at the university's Center for iPS Cell Research and Application. The trial could provide patients with a "promising choice of treatment", he said. The new treatment is covered by national health insurance.

According to some experts, the iPS cells need a careful application as they could turn into malignant tumours. The research team has already performed a test on monkeys in a preclinical study.

The test will be conducted on seven people. One of the patients taking part in the study will be selected from those being treated at Kyoto University Hospital, said the research team.

The representative chairman of the Japan Parkinson's Disease Association, Kosei Hasegawa, said, "I want the method to be established as a treatment available for anyone as soon as possible."

Parkinson's is a kind of disease that reduces neurons that produce dopamine in the brain. Its symptoms include tremors in the hands and feet. It causes stiffness in the body. About 160,000 people in Japan suffer from the disease.

Riken institute conducted the world's first transplant of retinal cells grown from iPS cells to an ailing patient in 2014. Now, Osaka University is planning a clinical test for treating heart failure with the use of a heart muscle cell sheet created from iPS cells.

Join the Discussion