This is the first world to give hope to people with Parkinson's Disease. On Friday, November 9th, researchers at the Kyoto University in Japan said they successfully transplanted 2.4 million iPS stem cells into the left brain of a patient with Parkinson's disease. "induced pluripotent stem cells" or, in French, induced pluripotent cells).
The operation, which took place last month, lasted for three hours, says the medical team. The patient, a man of fifties, was well tolerated. It will now be under the supervision of two years. If there is no problem within six months, doctors will implant 2.4 million additional stem cells, this time on the right side of the patient's brain.
Pluripotent stem cells
The second most common neurodegenerative disease of the nervous system after Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease affects about 200,000 people in France and more than a million in Europe: every year, 8,000 new cases are reported in France. According to the American Foundation of Parkinson's Disease, the world has 10 million Parkinson's patients.
Characterized by the progressive loss of dopamine-derived brain neurons, Parkinson's disease causes progressive loss of motion control and other motor symptoms such as tremor and lumbar abscesses. Currently available treatments that give dopamine or simulate its action "improve the symptoms, but without slowing the progression of the disease," says Parkinson's disease.
This new treatment with iPS stem cells of healthy donors offers new hope in patients. Moreover, the latter have a difference from pluripotent: brain transplantation at a particular site should be able to transform into neurons that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in controlling motor abilities.
Clinical trial of seven patients has been announced
This successful essay by Japanese scientists will probably not be the last. In July last year, the University of Kyoto announced the launch of a clinical trial with seven participants aged 50-69. "I greet patients for their courageous and determined participation," said Professor Jun Takahashi, who announced the public television channel NHK on Friday.
This clinical trial is based on an experiment on monkeys with stem cells of human origin, and was published in a journal article in August 2017. According to the researchers, this trait has improved the capacity of primates with the form of Parkinson's movements. The survival of inserted cells, by injection into the primate brain, was observed for two years without any tumor-like appearance.
However, it is necessary to keep it because it is not enough that the transplant goes well in order to be functional. This confirms stem cell transplantation in the heart, whose experiments take place for years with extremely modest functional results. All the problems will not be solved by transplants, but we hope for researchers and medicine.
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