NTCELL is an investigative disease-modifying therapy for Parkinson’s disease under development by Living Cell Technologies (LCT). The unique cell therapy consists of a capsule that contains newborn choroid plexus cells from pigs without pathogens bred from a stock discovered in the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands. Choroid plexus cells are “support” cells in the brain that secrete cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and help the natural functions of nerve cells.
The porcine-derived NTCELL is coated using LCT’s trademarked technology called IMMUPEL, which protects them from immune system attacks and eliminates the need for an immunosuppressive regimen added to the treatment.
How NTCELL works
NTCELL treatment is implanted into a damaged site within the brain. There, it functions as a sort of factory that produces CSF, secreting nerve growth factors that promote the growth of new nerve cells and repair disease-induced nerve degeneration. At the same time, it potentially removes waste products such as amyloids and proteins. Amyloids are abnormal protein aggregates seen in Parkinson’s disease.
Researchers hope that NTCELL will be approved for the restoration of function in Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases of the central nervous system (CNS), and slow disease progression in patients with middle-stage Parkinson’s disease experiencing reduced response to standard medical therapy.
Preclinical studies of NTCELL have shown that it has the capacity to regenerate damaged tissue and restore nerve cell function in animal models of some diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, as well as models of hearing loss, stroke, and other non-neurological conditions, such as wound healing.
LCT recently completed treatment in six Parkinson’s disease patients in the third cohort of a Phase 2b study of NTCELL at Auckland City Hospital in New Zealand.
Four of the six patients had 120 NTCELL microcapsules implanted into each side of their brain, and two had sham surgery with no NTCELL implants. So far, no safety issues have been observed in any of the six patients.
The full results will be available to the company 26 weeks after the completion of the study in the last group, which is expected in November 2017. The data will then be analyzed and results announced.
The trial’s objectives are to confirm the most effective dose of NTCELL, to define any placebo component of the response, and to further identify the initial target Parkinson’s disease patient subgroup. If these objectives are met, the company will apply to Medsafe, the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority, for provisional consent in the last quarter of 2017 with a view toward treating paying patients in New Zealand in 2018.
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