Stem Cell Therapy and Parkinson’s Disease

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Stem Cell Therapy and Parkinson’s Disease

Stem Cell Therapy and Parkinson’s Disease

Facts and Figures


Parkinson's Facts and Figures

Parkinson’s disease is named after Dr James Parkinson (1755-1824), the doctor that first identified the condition

It is caused by the loss of cells in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra, which produces dopamine

Approximately 4 million people worldwide have Parkinson’s disease, with up to 1 million of those in the US alone

The risk of developing Parkinson’s disease increases with age - symptoms usually occur after the age of 50

Around 1 in 20 people are diagnosed under the age of 40 years

Source: Orion Pharma

Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years.

The three main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body (tremor), slow movement and stiff or inflexible muscles.

It is caused by the loss of brain cells (neurones) in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra, which produces the chemical messenger dopamine. As the cells die, less dopamine is produced and transported to the striatum, the area of the brain that co-ordinates movement. Symptoms develop when about 80% of dopamine has been lost.

The reason that Parkinson’s disease develops is not known. As many as one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease, which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year, and this number does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected, which could mean as many as estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease.

Incidence of Parkinson’s tends to increases with age, but an estimated four percent of people with PD are diagnosed before the age of 50, with men one and a half times more likely to have Parkinson’s than women.

Whilst there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, treatments can help control the symptoms and maintain quality of life.

On this basis it is estimated that the combined direct and indirect cost of Parkinson’s, including treatment, social security payments and lost income from inability to work, is estimated to be nearly $25 billion per year in the United States alone. Medication costs for an individual person with PD average $2,500 a year, and therapeutic surgery can cost up to $100,000 dollars per patient.

Research Into Stem Cell Treatment

In recent years breakthroughs in stem cell therapies have begun to offer some insights into potential areas of treatment.

This includes examples such as a trial with the California-based International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCO) which is conducting a clinical trial on 12 people with moderate to severe Parkinson’s Disease.

During the trial, doctors will implant replacement brain cells, called neural precursor cells, into the patients’ brains.

It is hoped these cells will finish maturing into the kind of neurons which are destroyed by the movement disorder.

One key supporter of these kinds of developments has been the Michael J Fox Foundation (MJFF) who supported stem cell research at an early stage. Commenting on recent similar trials they added;

“The complexity and mystery of brain diseases make them incredibly difficult to understand and to treat,” says MJFF CEO Todd Sherer, PhD. “Stem cell technologies may offer a more sophisticated dopamine replacement approach and provide the opportunity to study the influence of disease and of interventions on these vulnerable cells.”

However, all experts agree that there is still a long way to go, and that it is important to  continue to monitor Parkinson’s disease specific stem cell developments for opportunities which can help advance this research.

Protect Their Future Health

If you want more information on how you could bank your children’s baby teeth for potential future therapeutic use, have a chat to one of our team or download our guide to stem cell banking.

To keep up to date with the latest developments in stem cell therapy and the treatment of heart disease, make sure to check back regularly to our blog.