stem cells for parkinson’s

are stem cells safe to use and what are the requiirments

Dr. Sanchez-Ramos said...

Stem cells can be obtained from fetal tissue (obtained from therapeutic abortions), from embryonic stem cells (extra embryos in storage from in vitro fertilization clinics), from adult tissue stem cells (from bone marrow) or induced pluripotent stem cells (from a person’s own skin fibroblasts). Well-designed clinical studies of fetal cell grafts were conducted in the last decade of the 20th century by highly qualified physician/scientists and surgeons in the US. Some patients did well and were able to decrease the amount of levodopa required. Unfortunately, many patients developed “runaway dyskinesias”, excessive involuntary movements that were often incapacitating. Going forward, no one in the US is using fetal cell grafts for PD any longer. A shift has been towards using adult tissue-derived stem cells, but I’m afraid there are many unscrupulous individuals around the world who are taking a person’s bone marrow cells or cord blood cells and injecting them into brain or spinal cord of patients with a variety of neurodegenerative conditons including PD. The individuals performing these procedures charge signficant amounts of money ($20,000 to $30,000) to undertake an experimental procedure for which there is no evidence of benefit. And to make things worse, these scam artists never followup on the patients. They are sent home to be followed up by their personal doctors, who most likely had discouraged them from going on a foreign “medical vacation”. Needless to say there is no reporting of results from these foreign ,edical vacations in peer-reviewed journals.

There is some hope for the future. Advances in basic stem cell biology, including the ability to convert a skin fibroblast into a stem cell (induced pluripotent cells) will one day lead to the ability to make new neurons from a patients own adult tissue cells. How to get your own stem cells to reconstruct the dysfunctional and dying nigro-striatal dopamine system remains a major problem.