Adult Stem Cell Research Helps Parkinson’s Patient Like Michael J. Fox

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 25, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Adult Stem Cell Research Helps Parkinson’s Patient Like Michael J. Fox Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 25
, 2006

Beijing, China ( — A hospital in China has announced that it has successfully treated a patient like Michael J. Fox with Parkinson’s disease using adult stem cells. Fox has drawn international attention for misleading campaign commercials criticizing pro-life candidates who oppose embryonic stem cell research.

Despite Fox’s ads, embryonic stem cells have yet to help any patients.

But adult stem cells helped 52 year old Penny Thomas of Hawaii who says she has since seen tremendous improvement in her condition since a recent therapy.

Yesterday, Tiantan Puhua Neurosurgical Hospital announced the first known successful stem cell therapy treatment in China, and one of the first in the world.

Tiantan Puhua applied the unique procedure, specifically designed for Parkinson’s patients. Hospital staff completed the initial stage of careful monitoring of Penny’s progress during and after the treatment to ensure that the procedure was a success.

"I was on the verge of dying" says Penny in a statement obtained.

"Now, I feel that I have my life back after this new stem cell treatment. My body has calmed down, I can walk fluidly, I can hold a knife and a fork and cut my food by myself, I can get out of bed on my own, brush my hair, and even do Yoga. I feel like a kid again," she said.

Tiantan Puhua Hospital’s groundbreaking treatment introduces ‘Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial cells’ (hRPE) to patients’ bodies causing them to naturally produce Dopamine, enhancing Dopamine levels in the brain.

The Hospital’s use of hRPE cells means that patients do not have immunosuppressive reactions and therefore do not need to take additional drugs during the treatment.

"Our medical solution gives a new ray of hope for all patients around the world suffering from formerly untreatable neural diseases like Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy and Stroke," Dr. Sherwood Yang, Vice President of Tiantan Puhua Hospital said. "We are all very happy for Penny and are excited to see the improvement in her condition."

Parkinson disease is a brain disorder that occurs when certain nerve cells in the brain die or become damaged. The normal function of these nerve cells is the production of Dopamine – a vital chemical which is responsible of our body’s smooth and well coordinated movement.

Thomas was diagnosed with Parkinson by doctors in the US four years ago and has since suffered from almost every symptom of the disease.

She experienced constant shaking in her hands, had severe difficulty getting out of a bed or chair by herself, and could only eat if her food was prepared for her in a way that allowed her to use a spoon or her fingers. She had given up reading and writing and had extreme difficulty performing operations most people take for granted, such as holding a telephone, getting dressed, brushing her hair or even turning her neck.

Penny often experienced "freeze ups" while walking whereby she would stop and not be able to continue her motion.

After two months of Stem Cell therapy, which included neurological nutritional balancing and rehabilitation in Tiantan Puhua Hospital in Beijing that started on May 11, 2006, Penny said she regained her life back.

While the treatment cannot completely remove all symptoms of the disease, Penny’s shaking was greatly reduced, muscle tension disappeared, her strength increased, movement became more fluid, and her freeze ups stopped. After the treatment, Penny was able to get out of bed immediately and without help.