A new clinical trial has started to cure Parkinson's disease with stem cells.
This procedure sounds like straight out of science fiction. Medical researchers at Australia's Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) have injected stem cells into the brain of a Parkinson's patient.
The stem cells are derived from unfertilized eggs and manufactured in the lab by a biotech company in California. The stem cells have been injected into the patient's brain through two 15mm holes in the skull and the doctors targeted 14 sites on the brain and each injection had to be spaced four minutes apart.
The whole stem cell Parkinson's study will include 12 patients with moderate to severe Parkinson's. Lead researcher, RMH Neurologist, Dr Andrew Evans, said a 64-year old Victorian man was the first patient to receive the neural stem cells in a delicate operation performed by RMH Neurosurgeon, Mr Girish Nair, that lasted more than five hours.
“The first patient’s operation was a success, however we won’t know for 12 months the effects of the stem cell implants and if we are on the verge of a new treatment for Parkinson's,” Dr Evans said.
"The first phase is critical for us to understand the right amount of neural stem cells required to be injected into the brain. The three different doses range from 30,000,000 to 70,000,000 neural cells and of those, only a very small percentage will become dopamine. Dopamine is a hormone that transmits information between brain cells and is one of the most critical transmitters in the brain that is lost with Parkinson’s disease,” Dr. Evans explains the challenges of the new stem cell cure.
The transplant of stem cells in the remaining 11 patients will finish in 2017 with the results expected in 2019.