The War on Parkinson’s: Stem Cells Successfully Injected into Patient’s Brain

A team of Australian researchers have successfully performed a procedure injecting stem cells into the brain of a Parkinson’s Disease patient. The researchers are hopeful that this could be the future of Parkinson’s treatment.

Researcher Garish Nair, a neurosurgeon at Royal Melbourne, led the procedure. He and his team injected millions of stem cells at 14 sites in the patient’s brain. “The challenge was to do it in a way that you minimize the number of times that you pass your instrument through the brain, to minimize the damage,” explains Dr Nair. To do so, they had to perform around 4 dummy rounds on a 3D model before the actual procedure.

The stem cell injection, the researchers hope, would boost the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Parkinson’s is known to exhibit symptoms of “tremor, rigidity, and being unable to express emotions, affecting walking. All of those functions are mediated by dopamine,” Dr. Nair explains. If successful, patient would display improvement in these areas.

The use of stem cells in medical treatment is largely controversial because of ethical concerns, particularly with embryonic stem cells. The procedure, however, does not present an ethical problem. The stem cells used were created using neural cells in a lab of a biotech company in California.

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