Eight patients suffering from Parkinson’s will try to get cure from the disease with their own stem cells next year. If all goes well, the FDA will give approval for a clinical trial next year. If the patients find finding, the scientists will have the money to proceed with the trial.
Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute took patients’ own skin cells and grown them into induced pluripotent stem cells – cells that have the properties of embryonic stem cells. After this, they developed induced pluripotent stem cells into dopamine-making neurons that are destroyed in Parkinson's disease.
The neurons will grow until they are only short of maturity, and then the scientists will transplant them into the brains of the trial participants. After the transplantation, the cells will reach complete maturation in the brain where they are expected to form connections with the neighboring cells and begin producing dopamine.
Attempts by the team to treat Parkinson's with neural cells from aborted fetuses mostly failed because it was difficult to control quality of the source, but some patients got long-lasting improvements which made the authors of the study think they were on the right track.
According to the researchers, autologous cells can bring better results as they do not call for histocompatibility matching and the scientists can better control the situstion. They know how many cells they have, and what types of cells these are. However, IPS, similarly to embryonic stem cells, can form tumors if they are transplanted with the neurons prepared for transplantation. So the team will need to demonstrate that the safety issues are adequately addressed.