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Injecting Stem Cell Into The Brain Reduces Parkinson\'s Symptoms in Monkeys

Human embryonic stem cells transplanted into the monkey brain reduced suffering in animals with Parkinson's disease-like symptoms, the study by researchers from Kyoto University in Japan demonstrates.

The study involved three monkeys with their brains damaged by a chemical destroying neurons that produce dopamine and thus leading to Parkinson’s symptoms development. To ease the symptoms of the disease, Jun Takahashi and colleagues injected embryonic stem cells into the animals’ brains.

In two cases, monkeys were injected with stem cells that had been first matured into an early form of neurons (neural stem cells). In one case, the monkey received stem cells that were less mature. Monkeys from the first group had their movements recovered 20 to 45 percent six months after the treatment. Autopsies conducted twelve months after the stem cell treatment demonstrated that the injected cells had turned into normally functioning dopamine-secreting neurons. The monkey that received less developed cells also showed improvements.

The improvements included more smooth movement of the animals who began having tremors and rigidity; the monkeys that could not walk around before the treatment gained the ability to do this again.

The researchers expect that human trials can start in four to six years.