Australia was chosen to host phase one of the trial due to the nation’s high standard in clinical research as well as its culture of innovation. If the first phase is deemed successful, larger trials in the U.S., Australia and Europe will commence within the next couple years.
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The trial consists of 12 Parkinson’s patients who will be injected with neural stem cells, and then observed for one year. Doctors will monitor the subjects to see if they are able to boost the brain’s capacity to produce and release the chemical messenger dopamine, which is lost in Parkinson’s patients.
“Dopamine is one of the most critical neurotransmitters or chemical messengers in the brain, and the loss of this neurotransmitter is directly linked to the development of the cardinal features that include stiffness, slowness and shaking,” said Australian neurologist Dr. Andrew Evans.
“It’s hoped that through replenishment of the dopamine through these neural stem cells, which show some capacity to differentiate into obviously dopamine producing cells in the annual models, we are hoping to restore some of the functions in patients with Parkinson’s disease.”
Parkinson’s disease affects nearly 10,000 people across the globe, with symptoms including movement restrictions, shaking, dementia and other behavioral problems. According to ISCO chief scientific officer Dr. Russell Kern, a single injection of the stem cells could generate a lifetime supply of neurons.
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Successful preliminary and subsequent trials would be a revolutionary breakthrough for using stem cells to treat other diseases that cause brain degeneration, including ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
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