Adult Stem Cell Research Reverses Effects of Parkinson’s Disease in Human Trial

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 16, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Adult Stem Cell Research Reverses Effects of Parkinson’s Disease in Human Trial

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 16
, 2009

Los Angeles, CA ( — Scientists have published a paper in a medical journal describing the results of the world’s first clinical trial using autologous neural stem cells for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. A leading bioethics watchdog says the results show more money should be put behind adult stem cells.

UCLA researchers published their results in February issue of the Bentham Open Stem Cell Journal which outlines the long term results of the trial.

"We have documented the first successful adult neural stem cell transplantation to reverse the effects of Parkinson’s disease and demonstrated the long term safety and therapeutic effects of this approach," says lead author Dr. Michel Levesque.

The paper describes how Levesque’s team was able to isolate patient-derived neural stem cells, multiply them in vitro and ultimately differentiate them to produce mature neurons before they are reintroduced into the brain.

The team was able to inject the adult stem cells without the need for immunosuppressants. Unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cell injections don’t cause a patient’s immune system to reject the cells.

The adult stem cells were highly beneficial for the patient involved in the study.

"Of particular note are the striking results this study yielded — for the five years following the procedure the patient’s motor scales improved by over 80% for at least 36 months," Levesque wrote.

He said he hoped a larger clinical trial would replicate the findings.

Dr. David Prentice, a former biology professor at Indiana State University who is now a fellow with the Family Research Council, tells that the results of the study are wonderful news for patients.

"This evidence had been presented previously, but we now have the peer-reviewed scientific evidence for the effectiveness of adult stem cells in alleviating Parkinson’s symptoms," he said. "While the data show that the technique needs refinement, this patient went for several years with little to no symptoms of his disease, even with only half of the brain treated with his own adult stem cells."

Prentice says the results continue to prove that adult stem cells outpace their embryonic counterparts.

"People need to take notice that it is not embryonic stem cells that provide promise of treatments in the future, but rather it is adult stem cells that are already providing safe and effective therapies for patients now, without the problems of rejection or tumors," Prentice explains.

"We need to pour our resources, especially taxpayer dollars, into adult stem cell research to foster more and better treatments and put the patients first," he told

Levesque is a principal investigator for NeuroGeneration, a biotechnology company, and is affiliated with the UCLA School of Medicine and the Brain Research Institute.

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