On 13th of February, a transplant of stem cell-derived nerve cells was administered to a person with Parkinson’s at Skåne University Hospital, Sweden. The product has been developed by Lund University and it is now being tested in patients for the first time. The transplantation product is generated from embryonic stem cells and functions to replace the dopamine nerve cells which are lost in the parkinsonian brain.
This patient was the first of eight with Parkinson’s disease who will receive the transplant.
“This is an important milestone on the road towards a cell therapy that can be used to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease. The transplantation has been completed as planned, and the correct location of the cell implant has been confirmed by a magnetic resonance imaging. Any potential effects of the STEM PD-product may take several years. The patient has been discharged from the hospital and evaluations will be conducted according to the study protocol,” says Gesine Paul-Visse, principal investigator for the STEM-PD clinical trial,consultant neurologist at Skåne University Hospital and adjunct professor at Lund University in Sweden.
There are around eight million people living with Parkinson’s disease globally; a disease which involves loss of dopamine nerve cells deep in the brain, leading to problems in controlling movement. The standard treatment for Parkinson’s disease are medications that replace the lost dopamine, but over time these medications often become less effective and cause side effects. As of today, there are no treatments that can repair the damaged structures within the brain or that can replace the nerve cells that are lost.
The STEM-PD trial is now testing a new investigational therapy aimed at replacing the lost dopamine cells with healthy ones manufactured from stem cells. The cell product that is being used has been subjected to rigorous pre-clinical tests, to meet the Swedish Medical Products Agency’s quality standards. After being transplanted, the cells are expected to mature into new and healthy dopamine producing nerve cells within the brain.