First Dose Group in Parkinson’s Stem Cell Trial Successfully Transplanted

First Dose Group in Parkinson’s Stem Cell Trial Successfully Transplanted

The fourth and last patient of the first group in a clinical trial of stem cell transplants in Parkinson’s disease has successfully received the transplant, the International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCO) reported. Researchers are now preparing for the next stage, in which patients will receive a higher number of cells.

So far, researchers have not recorded any adverse events among the four patients who had neural stem cells, called ISC-hpNSC, inserted into their brains.

If successful, the stem cell therapy has the potential to regenerate lost nerve cells — and revolutionize the way Parkinson’s disease is treated.

“We are very encouraged by the early clinical safety data for ISC-hpNSC,” Russell Kern, PhD, executive vice president and chief scientific officer of ISCO, said in a news release.

The Phase 1 clinical trial (NCT02452723) was launched in March 2016, and expects to enroll 12 patients with moderate Parkinson’s disease. Patients are divided into three groups of four patients each. The groups will receive increasing doses, ranging between 30,000,000 to 70,000,000 neural stem cells.

The main goal of the trial is to assess the safety of the treatment, with patients followed for 12 months after the transplants.

But researchers will also use brain scans to assess whether the cells survive once transplanted, and if they contribute to making the patients better. Participants are assessed using the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and other tools, and although the study is small, researchers will evaluate any potential improvements in symptoms.

Parkinson’s symptoms typically appear when a large proportion of brain cells containing dopamine are already gone. And while treatments with added dopamine may improve symptoms, at least for some time, the treatment approach is fraught with dosing difficulties.

The ISC-hpNSC cells are derived from what researchers call human parthenogenetic stem cells. Parkinson’s animal models that received the treatment improved, making researchers and patients alike hope that the same will be seen in patients.

The cells are thought to provide neurotrophic support to brain cells still alive. This means they secrete factors that help dying neurons survive. They are also thought to replace the dead and dying dopamine neurons.

But as the trial started, researchers raised concerns that not enough was known about what the cells do in the brain. The group of researchers also questioned whether the safety follow-up of one year was sufficient, and argued that clinical trials of stem cell approaches may be a premature step, in an article in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

Still, ISCO has an optimistic view of the trial continuation.

“We look forward to dosing our second cohort with 50 million cells and enrolling the rest of our clinical trial participants in 2017,” Kern said. “The Data Safety Monitor Board meeting will be held in the beginning of May and we expect to receive approval to start an accelerated enrollment of patients into the second cohort.”


  1. Joan Wikkerink says:

    How can a parkinson patient become a part of this study? Are there age limitations?
    Thank you.

      • Vivek Dixit says:

        Dear Ms Kegel. I sent through an email to the mentioned email address however, it just bounced back. Would there be any alternate email address available?

        I look forward to hearing from you.

        Kind regards,

    • michael j warren says:

      Michael j warren age 68 Parkinson
      at age 50 diagonised with parkinson.
      would liketo be considered for clinical trial. I have modest pd with dbs system implant in 2001. 509-525-5454

    • Magdalena Kegel says:

      Hi Jon,
      The best way to stay updated about trials is to sign up for our newsletter, as we frequently include information about trials, recruiting participants.

  2. Sheila Barrows says:

    I volunteered to be a subject in a study of Parkinson’s and stem cell replacement from adipose tissue, but I was told the cut-off age was 80. Recently I’ve used Vital Stem (stem cell activator) and my neurologist is encouraging.

  3. You don’t give any encouragement to people over the age of 80. I am 80 and don’t think I would represent any danger to your program. Aside from having Parkinson’s, I am in very good health and try to keep myself this way. I’ve had Parkinson’s for at least 6 years and wish to live many more years. No one in my family that I can remember had Parkinson’s and most lived long lives.

  4. I stumbled across your article and was encouraged to know that stem cell treatment for Parkinson’s Disease was active in Australia. I have had Parkinsn’s for 10 years and went to Macquarie Stems Cells in Sydney and had treatment using the fat cells from my own body. Nothing was promised but I had a remarkable results for about 12 to 18 months but then it stopped. I would be vitally interested to hear from you.

    • Magdalena Kegel says:

      Hi Peter,
      I’m truly sorry to hear that your treatment stopped working.

      I am, however, only a reporter for Parkinson’s News Today — not a researcher involved in this study. Please see comments above for contact details to study staff.

    • AJIT says:

      That is a good question! Ultimately it boils down to the same that the world will trust only if the package is US FDA approved !

    • lanie wilton says:

      There is also stem cell therapy available privately outside of trials (my husband received treatment in NZ a year ago with great results). He went through NZGS here in Gisborne. Frustrating that more people don’t know it’s available.

      • lauren says:

        Hello, can u please share more info as to what type therapy your husband did. YOur time would be greatly appreciated.

    • sanauddin sheikh says:

      hi there, my wife age 34 and has been diagnosed Parkinsonism in 2017 and its been six month her treatment started and there is slight effect of medicine but only problem with her balance and walk which is not responding or getting better.
      I need to know if stem theraphy good for her and one neuro consultant who suggest that deep brain stimulation theraphy is ideal for her …

  5. Mike Moore says:

    Is there a danger that the stem cell implant become cancerous if it grows unchecked. Also will my having a DBS implant-does this count against me in assessment of suitable candidates for stem cell research

  6. KUSHAL GARG says:

    My dad is suffering from parkinson of type SCA 12 diagnosed, and i have preserved stem cells of my son last year. Is there any safe cure to through stem cells transplant or else.

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